Yoga’s cult status may be in part because of its celebrity following in the sports world

.Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Lakers basketball star, was a devoted yoga fan throughout his career, and tennis star John McEnroe practised yoga to extend his game a few more years as he reached the end of his career.  Even rugby players are yoga fans, as Graham Henry, the New Zealand All Blacks coach said “We do not travel anywhere without the team’s personal yoga trainer”.

10 minute meditations for a stress free day By Jane Clapham

Meditation doesn’t need to be boring, difficult or uncomfortable. It can help you focus your mind, keep calm and feel positive and uplifted. And it doesn’t need to take too long – even 10 minutes can make a huge difference.

 

Dru Meditation

What is so special about Dru Meditation? I believe in it so strongly because of its ability to arm you with the right tools for relaxation, whatever state of mind you’re in. If you’re agitated it will bring you calmness, if you’re exhausted it will bring you energy, and if you’re feeling anxious it will bring you peace. Added to this are the real healing powers and the sense of fullness and contentment that can be achieved through finding that still place that only meditation can lead you into.

 

Try my top techniques to fit the fantastic benefits of meditation into your busy day.

 

 

1. Rise and shine

When you wake up in the morning, completely relax your body for one minute, while you’re still lying in bed. Think of 5 things you’re really grateful for. Then gently sit up and wrap your duvet around you. Bring your attention to your breathing and let it get deeper without forcing it at all. Focus on your heart chakra and feel warmth spreading through your body as you breathe. Continue for five minutes, then stretch (ideally a Dru Yoga sequence!) and start your day.

 

 

2. Relax body and mind

Dru Yoga is a powerful tool to help you relax. It systematically stretches and relaxes the muscles using graceful, flowing movements which bring calmness and increased energy. I often teach this relaxation at the end of a Dru Yoga class.

Do some stretches then lie down on the floor on a firm yet comfortable surface (a soft carpet or blanket is fine). Cover yourself with a blanket so you don’t get chilly. Make sure that your body is aligned in a straight line.

Starting from your feet, tense and relax each part of your body. Contract the muscles first in your feet, and then feel each of the toes relaxing as you soften the feet against the floor. Work up the body, through the legs, hips, abdomen, chest, back, neck and head.  Then focus on your breathing, and each time you breathe out, let your body release tension. As you breathe in, take peace and calmness into the body. Repeat for 5 minutes.

To finish, gradually bring your awareness back to your body and feel how your body is positioned on the floor. Move your toes and fingers gently, then stretch and sit up without disturbing that wonderful feeling of relaxation!

 

3. Stress busting technique

Relax for a few moments and focus on your breathing, watching the natural rhythm of each inhalation and exhalation.

Imagine a situation in your life that needs healing. Create an image of that situation 9in front of you, as if it were on a video screen. As you breathe in, draw some of the stress of the situation into your heart and immediately send it upwards and out of the top of your head as you breathe out.

 

Feel that above your head is a region of golden light in which you have full access to your healing potential. Imagine the stress entering this region and visualise the situation being completely healed.

On an in-breath, draw this new situation into your heart and breathe it out into the scene in front of you, bringing peace and a good solution to that situation. See smiles of relief on the faces of everyone concerned.

Repeat steps 2-5 until you feel relaxed, calm and full of joy.

 

4. Sunshine bliss

This is great for the winter blues!

On a sunny day, wrap up warmly and sit comfortably outside, whether on a chair or cross legged on the ground, facing the sun. Make sure your back is tall and upright and relax your shoulders and face.

Close your eyes and let the sunlight radiate onto your face. Imagine that each cell is absorbing the sunlight and that you are being filled with energy and positivity. You can do this meditation when it’s not sunny by visualising the sun and imagining its rays shining on your face. It’s a simple technique but very powerful.

 

Dru Meditation Retreat in North Wales

 

Enjoy a weekend of Dru Meditation in the beautiful surroundings of Snowdonia Suitable for beginners and intermediate meditators, the weekend will include movement and relaxation to stretch your body, calm your mind in preparation for blissful Dru meditations. You’ll also enjoy walking in the Welsh countryside, delicious food and relaxing therapies. Visit www.druworldwide.com for more information.

 

Keeping your Dru yoga practice fresh!

Whether we are new to yoga or are experienced teachers, we’d all like to do hours of practice every day. However most of us live in the real world and may have jobs or families around which to fit our yoga. So how to we keep our practice fresh and still have a life? Here’s what works for me…

 

Prioritise your day

Think about the benefits you get from your yoga and meditation practice. For me, these include more energy, calmness, coping better with stress, positive mood and physical well-being. Now think how important those benefits are and what a difference they will make in the rest of your day. I always tell my students that time I put into practice is an investment that will make the rest of their day flow so much better. For instance, Lu, a busy Charity Manager, prioritises her Dru Yoga practice and has found huge benefits. ‘After years of sporadic yoga and meditation practice, the Dru Yoga course has supported me to finally find a daily practice from which new depth is arising throughout my life!’

 

Have realistic goals

Work out how long you can spend on your yoga each morning and evening. Allocate a practical amount of time and be realistic – don’t make it fit into a perfect day when everything is calm and relaxed. Think of the worst case scenario and work out how you can still do your practice on such a day (they happen more often than we think!) If you can fit your practice into a busy day, you’ll always be able to do it.

 

Set your body clock for yoga

I’ve found that when I dedicate a set time for yoga, I’m much more likely to maintain my practice month after month. I started doing Dru Yoga when I was 15 and I’d get up 20 minutes earlier to do my practice before school. It became a (good) habit and I was able to keep it going for the three years I was at school. I didn’t have to debate with my mind whether or not to leave my cosy bed to meditate – my body clock was set for yoga and it wasn’t a struggle any more.

 

Use yoga props

Ring the changes with yoga books, DVDs and Cds. I always particularly recommend the ‘morning energizer’ sequence on the Dru Yoga DVD and Energy Block Release One from the book ‘Dru Yoga – Energy in Motion’. For a change it’s nice to let someone else guide you through a sequence via the DVD. I also love reading inspiring yoga classics like ‘autobiography of a yogi’ or the Bhagavad Gita.

 

Go al fresco

Despite the British weather, I manage to do my yoga practice outdoors most of the time. I live in Snowdonia and am so lucky to be able to practise in nature. I love doing my Energy block release 1, surya namaskar and Dru-style flowing trikonanasa, Virabhadrasana and Bhimasana next to trees and a waterfall. The fresh air and connection with the earth, sun, wind (and often rain) makes me feel refreshed and ready for the day. If you have a garden or even a balcony, experiment with practising outside.

 

Try a new style

If you’ve always followed one type of yoga, why not experiment with another? There is always more to learn! If you’re a traditional Hatha yogi, why not try the graceful flowing Dru sequences? Or spice up your practice with Bikram’s hot style or focus on getting your alignment right with Iyengar. Need a bit more strength? Then try power yoga or Dru Yoga dance. Visiting the yoga show or a similar yoga exhibition will give you an idea of new styles you might like to try.

 

‘Dru is my inspiration – it invigorates my body, settles my mind and is the most wonderful journey of inner peace.’ Marianne, Dru Yoga Graduate

 

Give yourself incentives

I don’t have my breakfast until I’ve done my yoga practice. It’s just a small incentive but it does work. Try having a really delicious cup of herbal tea or chai after you’ve sat for a certain length of time –  even small rewards seem to help the whole process!

 

Go on a retreat

There’s nothing like a weekend away in a conducive environment to kick start your practice. You don’t need to jet abroad – there are some beautiful yoga retreats around the UK. From Cornwall to the Highlands – there is something for everyone. For example the Dru Yoga Centre in Snowdonia offers yoga, meditation and walking breaks or try a Buddhist meditation retreat in Ireland – there are some great options out there.

 

The secret is to realise that your yoga practice is important in your life and deserves to be as fresh and enjoyable as possible. As it says in chapter two of the Gita, ‘No effort is ever wasted in these practices, nor is there any failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from great danger.’ (Dru Bhagavad Gita, sloka 40)

 

Try the sitting twist

Here at Dru we take a slightly different look at traditional postures. Ardha Matsyendrasana is a core posture in many yoga styles – and in Dru Yoga we use it to lift energy from the solar centre (Manipura) to the heart (Anahata) in order to change feelings of inadequacy into self-worth. With this inner strength, it’s easy to keep the discipline of a yoga practice, day in day out. This posture also increases the flexibility of the spine, which in turn aids the flexibility of our attitude, helping us to see opportunities to do yoga in an otherwise busy day. If you’d like to know more, we teach asanas and sequences with this detailed focus on our Dru Yoga retreats and teacher training, which is available all over the country.

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Jane Saraswati Clapham is a Dru Yoga and Meditation Teacher Trainer from North Wales, who has enjoyed her Dru practice for the past 25 years.  She runs events at Snowdonia Mountain Lodge, the home of Dru courses, which is perfect for yoga and meditation retreats, introductory weekends and teacher training courses.

Visit www.druworldwide.com or phone 01248 602900 for more information.

Cults or Multiculturalism – a Dru Yoga Perspective

In a multicultural society that is normally careful to deal even-handedly with minority groups of differing ethnic or faith backgrounds, yoga and yoga organisations have at times been tarnished with the label “cult” by sections of the media aided and abetted by voices that are far from impartial and objective.  As a Dru Yoga teacher of many years, I offer the following observations in the hope of bringing some balance to a topic that is all too often presented in a far from balanced way.

 

The word “cult” means literally “a group of people who share a common belief or faith.”  It is the same root that gives us the word “culture” and “multicultural” but of course in recent years its popular meaning has moved far from its origins to the one so beloved by sections of the media, and in particular the tabloid press.

 

There’s no doubt that as stories go, cults are up there with philandering politicians and celebrity “kiss and tells” as far as sales of newspapers go.

 

Over the years, there have been quite a few yoga schools and organisations that have found themselves on the wrong end of a cult newspaper article. I think that there are a number of reasons that perfectly legitimate organisations have suffered this fate.

 

Firstly, as any serious student of yoga knows, yoga, whilst having its roots in Hinduism, makes no demands of its practitioners to follow any particular faith or belief system.  It deals with the metaphysical and spiritual whilst not enjoying the protection afforded to a religion.  Yoga deals with principles that enhance human life and elevate consciousness in a way that is spiritual but that leaves it open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation by a secular observer.

 

Secondly, our tabloid press, have when it suits them, formed an alliance of convenience with what sociologists call “cult watching groups.”  These groups, who claim to be objective and impartial, purport to protect society from organisations that they themselves define as cults.  In reality, these cult watching groups are sometimes underpinned by a Christian fundamentalist motive which is intolerant of any expression of faith or spirituality that does not fit into their world view.

 

As a practitioner or Dru Yoga over many years, I have seen so many people’s health and well being improve by a surprisingly modest amount of yoga practice. Yoga encourages a flexible and healthy body and mind.  It’s rather ironic that a society that prides itself on its tolerance and multicultural credentials should allow the very linguistic root of its multicultural nature to be used to exploit something as positive as yoga for commercial and narrow-minded objectives.

 

Dru Bhagavad Gita – Practical techniques and methods

The Dru Bhagavad Gita continues by explaining that by acting in the wrong way, attachment is created and in chapters four and five Krishna explains that freedom comes to us by acting in the right way with wisdom and free from selfish desire, renouncing the fruits of actions.

In order for Arjuna to implement this he needs to learn to control his mind and senses and in chapter six Krishna, who knows that ones state of mind determines the quality of action begins to instruct him in the art of meditation, giving him practical techniques and methods. Now Arjuna can do something practical instead of just absorbing philosophy. Having taken him this far, Krishna decides to give Arjuna a glimpse of His divine power and who He,(Krishna) is, in a small preview of chapter eleven, and how to see His world from a different perspective in chapter seven.