Our wellbeing expert Niamh Deans explains how practising mudras during meditation/ asana is with the intention of channelling your body's energy flow.
Yoga is a gift. A gift that keeps giving. I have had many openings, unblocking of barriers and peeling back of layers and internal epiphanies in my personal yoga practice. These have come with challenges at times and been joyful at others - an analogy for life really. The constant being the anchor of the breath and the getting to know a place inside that is returnable to when life challenges arise. Today, I would like to share two results of yoga that were somewhat unexpected for me. The first one is around the practice of yoga and the second one is a peripheral and an amazing result of my yoga practice.
The first is gaining understanding and going on a journey with Shavasana. Shavasana literally translates as corpse pose. Lying down at the end of class to integrate your practice. The second one is that of community and the great new connections and friends I have gained through yoga.
In case you missed it: Yoga poses perfect for freeing cranky bodies
Firstly, Shavasana. This is the most difficult pose of all for some people and yet arguably the most beneficial for the body, mind and spirit. It can for some be really difficult to quieten the system. We lead such all-pervading busy lives and are used to be switched 'on' all of the time. A good friend of mine comes to yoga and leaves before Shavasana. No judgement here, that's just her thing. It can take time for the system to calm and the asana practice is a gateway to create this. Bringing one-pointed focus - drishti - it takes all of our concentration and present mind focus to hold a pose for any length of time.
This focus trains the thought-waves of the mind over time to calm and become less busy. Mindfulness, meditation, pranayama, relaxation, syncing breath with movement, mudra practice (a mudra is an energetic seal with the intention of channelling the body's energy flow) are all gateways into the deeper layers of the body Yoga provides this toolkit for accessing ourselves. Through asana practice, we open and energise the physical body and also the subtle body layer. When we come to Shavasana at the end of our physical practice, we let go. It is a practice of letting go of every layer of our being. We observe the mindstream and the thoughts as they come and go and try not to attach to these thoughts. We use the breath as an anchor to keep returning back into the present moment. All of these are very subtle ways to come into your own body space.
The effects of Shavasana are cumulative. The body builds up the restoration we receive in Shavasana and houses it over time. A teacher of mine once referred to the effects of building up our relaxation practice as similar to building up bank notes in the bank. We bank the effects in the body and it builds and stores over time. So every time we do it we are building on the previous time and the body stores and accrues the benefits. I have always been a fan of Shavasana but as my practice has deepened it has become a second 'home' for me! In Shavasana, I return and I remember a place that intuitively I know to be tapping into an energy of connectivity. An energy that is my vital life force and that same vital life force of all connected life.
This brings me onto my next point about interconnectedness and community. Once this well of interconnectedness is tapped inside and stoked and watered, the interconnection with other life is inevitable. As my practice develops I feel a heightened sense of 'picking up on energy', the universal energy; prana, the very pulse of life. That pulse which injects a baby with its very first breath and brings the trees to feed us oxygen. This energy has brought me the gifts of new friends in a stage of my life where I probably would not have made such new and strong bonds with others otherwise. Where I once viewed my yoga practice as a solitary thing (and it is, it is still my practice) it has also caused me to be open to receiving.
Life is so much more bountiful when we 'go with the flow' of the universe. Letting go of trying to control everything, letting go of thoughts and plans and being set on certain ways. I am not suggesting that all plans and thoughts are negative either, just that we don't hold on to them so tightly that they hold us back. The saying 'go with the flow' has so much more meaning for me these days. I have written before about the scientific effects of relaxation on the brain and how yoga and relaxation improve empathy, compassion and forgiveness. Well, in my experience, yoga has tapped into my vital energy and in turn allowed me to receive that interconnectedness with others, bringing me by virtue of my practice lifelong friends who I am most grateful for and connection with others through yoga that may also be fleeting but equally joyful. Namaste, friends.
'The divine in me bows to the divine in you' – Namaste meaning
Niamh Deans is a (200 hr RYT) yoga teacher teaching a mixed level mindful flow class in Samadhi Rathgar, The Mayfield Terenure and also specialises in corporate yoga and wellness. Niamh has trained in HIIT Yoga Shred ™ and Barre Concept™ and draws on her background in ballet and strength training throughout her classes. Niamh also has a diploma in Sports Yoga from Yoga Therapy Ireland. Niamh is launching a new schedule of classes in the brand new studio above The Mayfield in Terenure.
Check out her class schedule on www.bookwhen.com/ndyoga or contact 087-2057190 for more info!