Thursday, 26 January 2017

Starting a meditation practice - calming your mind

Many 'newbies' to meditation think that they cannot meditate because they cannot stop thinking.  Let me tell you a secret, this happens to even the most practiced meditators - our minds are meant to think, its what they do!!  The trick is not to get caught up in your thoughts and build on them but just let them go.  

But if your mind is active flitting from one thought to the next, it is often helpful to do a few mind calming yoga poses before you meditate - chest openers, gentle inversions and forward bends will bring calming oxygen rich blood to your brain.  Try the sequence below before you meditate if you find it difficult to calm your 'monkey mind'. You will need a rolled up blanket or towel and two blocks.

Reclined Chest Opener - lie with a rolled up blanket or towel under your shoulders to gently open up chest. Allow a little time for your chest to open, your breath to become more expansive.

Rolling Cat - come to all fours, breathe out and arch through your back, take your bottom back to your heels, breathe in, bend your elbows out to the sides and come forward to return to all fours.  Continue in a smooth rolling motion working with your breath.  

Puppy pose - come back to all fours and keeping your hips lifted walk your hands forward, bringing your forehead to the mat.  Melt your heart towards the mat to create a back bend.  If the pose is hard on your shoulders, try taking your hands further apart or interlace your fingers above your head.  To come out of the pose walk your hands back to all fours.

Extended Child Pose - come to the back of your mat, big toe touching, knees wide.  Walk your hands forward and bring your head to the mat, a block or a cushion. Press your tail bone back and stretch forward to lengthen your spine after the back bend.  Stay here for a few breaths then inhale and come to all fours.

Intense side stretch - from all fours, inhale tuck your toes, exhale lift your hips into Downward Facing Dog.  Breath in and step your right foot three quarters way forward.  Take your hands to blocks, breathe out press into straight legs and release your head down (no lower than your heart if you have issues with blood pressure or heart problems).  To come out of the pose, breathe out, bend your front knee and step back to Downward Facing Dog. 
Repeat second side then walk your feet forward and slowly roll up.

Tree - stand in the middle of your mat.  Take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to your left ankle, or shin or reach down and bring you right foot to your left thigh.  Find a dristi, a gaze point, breathe in and lift your arms up. Hold for a few breaths then breathe out to release.  Repeat second side.

Supported Bridge - lie on the mat with your knees bent.  Breathe in and lift your hips and place a block under your hips at the level of your tail bone.  Bend your elbows and rest them on the mat so that the palms are facing, fingers spread and open.  To come out of the pose, remove the block, and lower the hips.  Hug your knees in and rock from side to side.
Rest in savasana for a few minutes.

Happy meditating,


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