Mind Body and Spirit resource

This is my Yoga journey blog and resource with tips and hints relating to the mind, body and spirit. Collaborators, contributors are welcome to add their own journey and tips too.

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by Kimm Fearnley
Bournemouth, Bournemouth, United Kingdom,
Created on 1 Jan 2017

This project is for those interested in learning more about yoga, meditation and other aspects of spirituality. It is a place to share tips and experiences, views and information with others.

Tanya Ring is a yoga and pilates teacher and Kimm Fearnley founded the Happiness Centre - a yoga and meditation centre in Yorkshire where she taught meditation and gave away the profits to good causes. Kimm, who handed over the reins of the centre a few years ago now has a social media page called The Backroom Buddha. The two friends are passionate about yoga, meditation and healthy lifestyles and intend to offer a range of articles and videos to encourage the practice of gentle exercise and meditation. 

In the first article Kimm reveals how yoga helps her to face daily challenges and Tanya talks about how emotional release can be found in yoga postures.

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Sun, 01/01/2017
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Even warriors need to cry

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I searched for the emotion that had brought me to the floor and began to understand . . .

Sometimes during my yoga practice I cry.

I am not a weepy or self-pitying type of person and consider myself quite strong physically and emotionally but occasionally, seemingly out of nowhere, I find myself ambushed mid-asana!

Earlier this week I was attending a class and feeling pretty free and strong and suddenly in a Vinyasa flow sequence that I have repeated many times before, I found myself unable to push myself off from the mat into a plank position and I ended up overcome with the sheer effort and ended up facedown on my mat in a pool of my own hot tears. I took myself straight into the well-known recovery position of Child’s Pose to gather myself together for a few minutes and to reflect on what had happened.

Breathing deeply in the pose, I searched for the emotion that had brought me to the floor and began to understand that the repetition and difficulty of the sequence was symbolic of the courage and strength that I currently require to face the new life that I find myself in. The realisation that life without my beautiful daughter is not a temporary situation but a life-long challenge was almost too much to bear. The realisation that this life sequence will not end with a end-of-class Savasana but will continue for the rest of my life had suddenly overwhelmed me.

I calmed my breathing and joined the class in the next flow which involved a challenging position that made me smile and is known as Warrior. Yes, a warrior is what I need to become. 

It was at this point I felt the urge to write this piece about the power of yoga and how, in bringing mind, body and spirit together the practice brings emotions to the surface and how the yoga positions (asanas) and the sequences (the flow) can teach and enable us in so many ways. 

During the terror of my daughter’s cancer diagnosis of 18 months ago, I found much of my strength on my mat - as did she. It has also been to my practice that I turned for courage following her passing in June this year. The discipline of solitary practice, the taking up of only a small space in the world - the size of my mat has helped me get back on my feet, to reflect and refocus and to release the pain.

Being strong of mind, body and spirit is important to me and I know that if I continue to work on these, harmonise them, honour my body, quieten my mind and listen to my spirit, I will not only survive the worst thing that can happen to a parent but I will also thrive. Yoga and meditation keep me to striving to see the bigger picture and remind me constantly to keep my heart open when it sometimes wants to close, to keep my body strong when it wants to curl up in a ball and hide and to silence the monkey mind to allow wisdom and guidance to flow. 

To live in Grace.

Even for the greatest teachers and yogis there is no end goal there is simply practice. Depending on where we are in our lives our yoga practice will vary and some days we can stand strong on one leg in Tree Pose and other days we will sway around as if a storm has erupted in the room, leaving us aware of feeling unbalanced and uprooted. Observing these emotions is an important part of our practice.

Yoga instructor and Campfire member, Tanya Ring offers the following insights into her own practice. For Tanya, hamstrings are an area she likes to focus on and releasing into a forward fold  - in her case with bent knees due to an injury - gives her a sense of letting go and trusting. 

“I find many students especially those who run, enter into battle with hamstrings in forward folds, gripping or forcing that release,” says Tanya.

“Emotions such as fear of self expression or holding themselves back can be linked to this posture.”  

Through observing her students Tanya finds that women in particular hold a variety of emotions in the hips especially when faced with stress but also sadness and trauma are often found in this area.

“We sit a lot, so our hips are prone to tighten but also they are the energy centre of our emotions,” she says.

“Pigeon is the posture that I personally need to regularly include in my practice to release tightness in my hips. The posture allows me time to breathe into the tight area and lets me feel safe and grounded.” 

Yoga postures are about opening - our minds, spirits and our bodies and instructors are often heard reminding students to “lead with the heart”, to push the heart forward. This physically adds grace and poise to the posture and also opens the chest, pushes back the shoulders and encourages deeper breathing but it is also symbolic of living in love and all the emotions associated with the heart. Gratitude, forgiveness, sadness, grief, love, passion, jealousy, angry and compassion all reside in the heart centre and by pushing the heart forward we bring these emotions to the forefront of our practice. Firstly the yogi will observe which emotions rise to the surface and then, in their practice, aim to strengthen the positive ones and release the negative ones by being gently aware, acknowledging and letting go but never forcing anything.

There are the more obvious postures such as Warrior which encourages strength, endurance and patience. The Sanskrit name for this posture is Virabhadrasana - vira meaning hero and bhadra meaning friend (asana simply means posture). A Spiritual Warrior needs patience to become strong and quieten the ego. The three Warrior postures are demanding and require practice and bring frustration and anger to the surface. 

During my own challenge I spent a great deal of time in Warrior but at the beginning really struggled as I was reluctant to take on the role, I felt inadequate and scared so I would fall over and my hips would not align properly - I was the least convincing warrior in the class! I still find it challenging but practice and patience help and, although I still have a great deal of room for improvement and some days I cannot get anywhere near the posture, I know that is ok too.

Backbends are often approached with some trepidation, particularly by new students. We are rightly, fearful of back injuries and many people suffer from back pain due to a combination of poor posture, stress and holding on to emotions and fear. 

Our natural reaction to fear is to curl up in a ball and protect ourselves but by including back beds in our practice we learn to be open, to surrender and to release our fears. It can be a slow process and the emotions that can rise to the surface during back bends such as Camel, Cobra, Bow and Wheel can be intense. 

Another aspect of yoga and an important one is also humility and postures such as Humble Warrior which includes a deep bow reminds us that a true warrior also has humility. Reverse corpse with the heart pressing into the earth is another symbol of humility and a posture many yogis adopt when meeting a spiritual guru as a mark of their respect and connection to the earth.

At the end of class it is usual to experience some form of meditation and stillness  as students lay on their backs, palms upturned, heart open in Savasana Posture. Tanya says this is the time some will dread in a class, especially when thoughts and emotions well up inside. Sometimes the loneliness of silence at the end of the class can trigger panic, fight or flight but listening to the breath and the heart beating and trying to stay in the moment and not stray to the thoughts and feelings that will make us vulnerable. Sometimes this is the time to let go and to feel out emotions is needed but we resist in the fear we will be judged.

Tanya explains that in allowing and acknowledging those thoughts and feelings - such as allowing tears to fall or smiles to form - is part of the healing and the releasing which is a fundamental and ofter ignored aspect of yoga practice. 

Others need this time in busy lives to re-energise by gently drifting into a relaxed state of body and mind. She says that even just 10 minutes can make such a difference and can assist in reaching a mediative state of mind. 

Whatever your frame of mind in your class allowing time for you to breathe, to feel, to let go can be the most wonderful feeling ever.  

Always listen to your body and take time to move gently and purposefully.

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2 Comments

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Lou Mycroft

Written with beauty, elegance and heart. You have inspired me. Thank you Kimm, and Tanya x

845

Kimm Fearnley

Thank you for reading and commenting @Lou Mycroft X