Category Archives: Yoga

Keeping on. Yoga & the Practise of resilience

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Keeping on.                                                   Yoga & the Practise of resilience

Sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part, sometimes it’s knowing when to stop but very often the hardest thing I’ve found is how to keep on going. Life is beautiful but it can also be chaotic and unpredictable and downright scary at times, when we want to stop the world and get off, learning how to keep going is the art of resilience.

As each day adds to my accumulated life experience I’m developing a sweet mix of confidence and humility. Confidence in who I am and a trust in life, and the humility to accept that theres so much more to life than I could possibly understand.

I am a lover of life, it’s wildly exciting to the point of near constant distraction. And maybe I’ve always been more interested with the fact of living than in directing it. Casting your ship out to see without a map is exhilarating but also exhausting. It’s taken me years (& years) of practise to discover how very much I still need to learn how to focus.
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Perfection amidst the chaos

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Manjushri Pauba

Manjushri is a Bodhisattva considered the personification of the combined wisdom of all the Buddhas.

He holds a sword in his right hand — symbolizing his ability to cut through delusion.

In his left hand, by his heart, he holds the stem of a lotus flower, which bears a book — the Perfection of Wisdom teaching.

Manjushri mantra
Om A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih

The literal translation of this Mantra gets into some pretty cosmic Buddhist philosophy but I first fell in Love with this mantra through this simple translation offered by Deva premal from her album of Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent times with the Gyuto Monks.

Amidst The chaos, everything is Pure by nature”

 

Here is a great simple version you can chant along with to get you started

 

Consciousness and Bliss

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“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
~ T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

natararaj
Image : Natraj Original Artwork
By Avik Chakraborty, Howrah
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The yoga of Growing through pain

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It’s a natural response to want to get away from pain. We all like to feel good, But pain can hold important lessons for us. Your body and mind are a complex interactive operating system for your life. Pain is a warning signal that something isn’t working optimally. If we refuse to truly experience our pain, then we rob ourselves of the healing potential it offers. As the mystical Poet Rumi put it “the cure for the pain is in the pain.”

As a yoga teacher I often hear people telling me that they can’t do yoga because  (insert current issue here) . Be it a painful back, an aching hip, a dodgy knee or a bad mood, there’s not much that a yogic approach can’t work to improve. I’m not saying that you should always attend your fast strong asana class no matter what, I’m saying the practise of yoga goes beyond the fast strong classes and that these issues maybe your invitation into a different approach.

Pain can be physical, emotional or mental, it can be chronic or acute, whatever the case the fear of the pain can be just as bad or worse than the pain itself. Once you’re caught up in the stories and resistance it can be really hard to see things rationally and clearly. In my research I’ve come up with this 3 step strategy to safely navigate my way through any painful experience, maybe it’s helpful to you also.

rumi
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The art of tying yourself in knots.

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I’m not talking about anything too kinky here, once again I’m talking about Yoga. In Yoga we have a practise called binding, basically its using one part of the body to hold on to or intertwine with another. Like this….

Bind

In Sanskrit “yoga” is usually defined as: Yoke, join, unite, …. or my favourite “connect”. It’s pretty straight forward to see how binding (tie, fasten, stick together) might be a relevant concept. When done correctly a bind will deepen our experience of a pose while assisting to maintain structural integrity. It can give support to relax deeper into a certain shape as well as providing a set of restrictions or leverage, to self adjust and explore familiar postures in new and interesting ways.

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Fierce Gods

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I recently came across this image on a late night google meander annotated ‘krishna as Narasimha’, and it struck me as a most interesting contrast to the flute playing/lovestruck/cowherd familiar face of Lord Krishna.

The Ṛg Veda contains an epithet that has been attributed to Narasiṁha.

like some wild beast, dread, prowling, mountain-roaming.

His main claim to fame is as the ‘Great protector’, defending his devotees in times of need. Vishnu/Krishna is said to have taken this form as an avatar to destroy a particularly difficult demon king. But thats a story for another day.
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Mindfulness in Motion

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  Less is more; How slower Yoga can be stronger and more satisfying.

“Let’s take it slow because some of the good things in life are worthy of reverence and appreciation. Let’s take it slow because what we have is like a cross-country ride, where all the breathtaking scenes must be breathed in and stared at with wonder. Let’s take it slow because getting to know you is like a trip to a museum where things, both wonderful and gruesome, are waiting to be discovered. Let’s take it slow because some things are best done at a leisurely pace”  ― Nessie Q.Snippets of Imagery

A month ago I did a 1 hour online yoga class in which there was only about 6 basic postures. Afterwards I laughed it off as being very slow and a bit boring, so it was a surprise to me that later that day to discover some muscle soreness, indicating that I’d worked harder than I’d realised in those long slow holds.

Now while I ‘know’ that going slower often means you work harder, knowing and doing are two different things. Changing our default pace is always a challenge, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion”.

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About Me:

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About Me:

I believe that Yoga is more than just exercise; it uses whats always right here – our body and breath to create a living experience of the power which flows through us as life itself.

I am Shanti Meera and I am a yoga teacher, IYTA* trained with 7 years teaching experience.

I love helping humans from all walks of life experience the inherent joy and wonder of being, through the the time tested practises of Yoga.

My own yoga practise has spanned 20 years and it has been a saving grace to me physically and mentally many times over. Introduced to the practices by my Mother yoga provided me with tools to manage my own highly anxious nature, replacing negative habits with a gentle mindful presence.

On my Journey I was blessed with an opportunity to spend 5 years living and working at a meditation centre in New Zealand. Mediation lies at the heart of a full yogic life and my practise here instilled in me an inner balance beyond the chaotic surface of modern living.

I have always had an insistent calling to understand deeply this world I find myself a part of. It is my life passion to continue this quest into the heart of life and to inspire others that cross my path in whatever ways I can.

My classes provide a safe space to explore the deep fusion of body mind and soul. All are welcome; the curious, inspired or soul hungry dreamers looking for direction; Yet also the tired, anxious, or unwell looking for support. This practise, when approached with sensitivity, is for everyone!

Although I am a teacher I am also always learning, not aligned with any one linage or teaching I am a strong believer in ‘finding what works for you’. Yoga is about unity and although there are many techniques and paths they all lead up the same mountain. Join me, sharing the peace and light of a deeper understanding of truth and a passionate love of life.

Slow Deep & Sweet

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Chakra inspired Yin Flow

Chakras are not physical things and studying them can be quite an esoteric affair. It took me years of my own practise before I made any conclusions about their “reality”. The best way to learn about these energy centres is through a practical experiential  approach but if we move too quickly it’s hard to tune in to the subtle energies below the surface of our everyday distractions.

Wether your a believer or not, using these centres as points of reference to ground your attention, you will discover a rich inner world bursting with the body/minds natural intelligence. It’s good to remember your not necessarily looking for extra-ordinary sensations rather developing sensitivity to what in our busy-ness we overlook as unimportant, or uninteresting; Here the Magic hides!

These poses are taken from Yin Yoga, a slow gentle practise which works more with the connective tissue than the muscles. take your time. Aim to stay still for 3-5 minutes, use any supports you need and adjust if necessary. No pushing or striving necessary,  back off a little from sensations that are too strong to relax within, and intensify if there is not enough sensation to keep you present.

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The Love of Silence

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The Love of Silence

It’s been a small eternity since I last blogged, more precisely since my Vipassana (meditation ) retreat in July. These days silence to me comes easy, it’s sweetly seductive and within it’s quiet embrace inner things happen that are very hard to find words for.

It’s an intense experience spending 10 days with nothing but your own thoughts for company. The first time I did this vipassana meditation course (12 years ago) the changes were whizz bang in my face obvious but this time it’s been different; subtler yet deeper, a strange and inner process. A bit like an unravelling but maybe de-ravelling might describe it better.

While I was there this quote popped into my mind:

“‘Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’                                                                          Then a voice says to me, This is going to take more than one night.'”       ~ Charles M. Schulz

Well to be honest after much reflection I still don’t have a clue (about anything much really!). And the word “wrong” doesn’t describe how I feel, rather a feeling that there might be more that if not attended to might be missed. This quote reminds me of this ongoing inner search for understanding, learning to integrate experience into tangible skills to navigate through life. The  place where I’ve found the most satisfactory answers is in this inner silence.

Now talking/ writing about silence is a strange proposition, and the reason why despite returning with promises of blogging about my retreat, it’s only now I’m willing and able to give it due consideration. As much as I LOVE silence I know there is also value in sharing. I know a lot of sensitive people are going through some tough times right now, and a couple of teachers and friends have shared their difficulties with such honesty and humility it’s inspiring me to be a little bolder in telling my own stories.

My first experience of deep inner silence came as a surprise, I thought I was just dipping my toe in and I found myself in over my head. I was taking a personal retreat, reading the power of Now and trying one of the suggested exercises and BAM ! . Trying to describe it feels impossible, but it was still, it was silent, yet it was alive and oh so very very peaceful. When my mind kicked back in it was pretty freaked, but there was also a deep sweetness. Once you’ve seen the truth you can’t un-see it.

My first thoughts pulling me out of the silence were, “how am I going to convincingly play the role of “me” now I know that theres this deeper sweeter silence just below the surface”? Well I do my best, but I’m not sure I’ve even convinced myself so I could understand if you have your doubts in my character.

My meditation practise satisfies my hunger for truth but my yoga practise balances me out, calling me back to a more embodied wholeness. Yoga instills in me a passion for living, this body this breath. Yoga helps me to notice and feel the beauty of each moment, and awakens the joy of authentic sharing. I Love to teach/Share yoga but I know I am the ‘finger pointing at the moon’, if you want to see the moon you have to look for yourself. Seeing people reflecting back that inner moonlight glow is one of my favourite things in the world.

10 days of silence is a great opportunity to investigate sharing habits; how, what and why, all the way to where and when. In this age of social media sharing it can be hard to hear your inner voice amidst the constant chatter, and even harder to share it rather than what we think will be popular. I didn’t want to write a surface chatter blog, I didn’t want try and sell you my answers, I wanted to make my inner silence into a song that might inspire you to listen for your own music.

I still have my own inner demons and fears that my mind likes to dance with, But I also know that it’s okay, totally madly deeply okay. I know that living in this seemingly complicated world it’s all too easy to forget, so lets remind each other when ever we can; With our words but also with our silences, with our smiles, our bodies, our breathes, and every bit of our being! xo

The Joy Of Not Being Sold Anything by Banksy - Photo by Alex Embleton, London, 2005 (flickr.com/embleton)

The Joy Of Not Being Sold Anything by Banksy – Photo by Alex Embleton, London, 2005 (flickr.com/embleton)