At many of you know, most of my West Hampstead yoga classes are in the evening. One of the benefits of the longer hours of darkness at this time of year, I always think, is that we have more opportunity to enjoy the different types of lights around us as we practise - including the tranquil atmosphere of candlelight. We also have more chances to hold a sparkler or two, or three - which always makes me smile, and there are the festivals that have light as a central theme in October / November, including Diwali & that uniquely British festival, Guy Fawkes / Bonfire night.
There are many ways through the practise of yoga and meditation that can help with the continuation of our own inner sparkle, or reignite it if we need to, so as to help us to "shine bright like the lights". For example - Pranayama practices or breathing techniques, which we explore further in my West Hampstead yoga classes on the last Sunday of the month, as well as yoga poses and sequences help to regulate and move prana (the subtle life force within us) freely around our body. This is essential to a life of health and happiness. As well as those from the Yoga tradition many cultures recognise how essential the free flow of pranic energy is for life. It is known as Aka to the Egyptians & Qi to the Chinese. Specifically, Kapalabhati a breathing technique translated as "shining skull breath" can help us feel more alert, and brighter, which is just one of the benefits. One of the many benefits of meditating regularly too, is that we can tap into our inner happiness and joy, that is not reliant on external objects and people.
Backbends can be very invigorating and uplifting particularly when our inner sparkle is fading. This week in West Hampstead yoga land, we have been exploring Ustrasana / camel pose – which can be a wonderful pose when practised mindfully and through certain yoga pose or asana sequences, for those of you that are interested in our energy centres, we can balance out the manipura chakra, located at the solar plexus, the seat of the "fire in our belly". This is the area that motivates us and helps propel us forward.