We all know the feeling, we lose track of our breath and find it a challenge to stay aware throughout our everyday. When your on retreat you get the time and space to learn some breathing exercises (Pranayama) that you will be able to use as a tool for everyday stresses that we combat in our everyday.
Pranayama are an important part of a developing yoga practice. Pranayama is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, as defined by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In addition to deepening your yoga practice, learning ways to calm or invigorate the body through breathing will greatly benefit your life off the mat. Breathing is an involuntary act; it is an essential part of life. Although we cannot control whether or not we breathe, we can control the way that we breathe. It has been proven that different methods of breath affect the body’s health and life force is the core of Pranayama practice.
Three-Part Breath – Dirga Pranayama
A good breath for beginners, this exercise teaches you how to fill and empty the lungs completely. Benefits: Focuses the attention on the present moment, calms and grounds the mind. This pranayama exercise is often done while seated in a comfortable, cross-legged position, but it is also nice to do while lying on the back, particularly at the beginning of your practice. When you are lying down, you can really feel the breath moving through your body as it makes contact with the floor.
1. Come to lie down on the back with the eyes closed, relaxing the face and the body.
2. Begin by observing the natural inhalation and exhalation of your breath without changing anything. If you find yourself distracted by the activity in your mind, try not to engage in the thoughts. Just notice them and then let them go, bringing your attention back to the inhales and the exhales.
3. Then begin to inhale deeply through the nose.
4. On each inhale, fill the belly up with your breath. Expand the belly with air like a balloon.
5. On each exhale, expel all the air out from the belly through your nose. Draw the navel back towards your spine to make sure that the belly is empty of air.
6. Repeat this deep belly breathing for about five breaths.
7. On the next inhale, fill the belly up with air as described above. Then when the belly is full, draw in a little more breath and let that air expand into the rib cage causing the ribs to widen apart.
8. On the exhale, let the air go first from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together, and them from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
9. Repeat this deep breathing into the belly and rib cage for about five breaths.
10. On the next inhale, fill the belly and rib cage up with air as described above. Then draw in just a little more air and let it fill the upper chest, all the way up to the collarbone, causing the area around the heart (which is called the heart center in yoga), expand and rise.
11. On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest, allowing the heart center sink back down, then from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together. Finally, let the air go from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
12. You are practicing three-part breath! Continue at your own pace, eventually coming to let the three parts of the breath happen smoothly without pausing.
13. Continue for about 10 breaths.
Try this breathing exercise out before you even come on our yoga retreat and it will be the perfect introduction to winding down before you set off.
Some of the mediation we have practiced at our yoga breaks recently have been influenced by Dr. Jon Kabat Zimm. Kabat Zimm started up a mindfulness centre in 1979 and has done some profound work for mindfulness, healing and stress reduction. We wanted to share some of his thoughts, have a leisurely read…
Has this ever happened to you while driving to work: you have a long and heated argument with somebody about your work, only to find at some point that you are alone in the car?
So far, the meeting and the argument are taking place only in your own mind! But you are already tense, perhaps even angry, feeling the stress of events that may not happen at all, or that will no doubt unfold differently from the way you have imagined. Afterwards, you can barely remember how you got to work. You certainly weren’t all there for the ride.
Or, you come out of a meeting in which you failed to speak up. Then you spend the rest of the day arguing your points with people in your mind. The meeting is over, but you are experiencing the stress of these mental arguments for the rest of the day. They are going nowhere, and you are out of touch, lost in a fog of your own creation — however important the real issues may be.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We all spend much of our lives unconsciously absorbed in a future that hasn’t happened yet or in a past that is already gone and in the process, spend much of the day out of touch with the present moment, which is the only time we ever get in which to live or act. And so, we can easily miss out on the opportunities that the present moment is constantly offering us.
Certainly, mental rehearsal and thoughtful reflection can be useful at times. But there are better ways to do it than through the haze of unconscious preoccupation and absorption. If you have real problems, it will be important to work them with a clear mind.
If you are routinely out of touch with the present, you may miss more than the morning commute. You might be thinking of other things while playing with your children, lost in thought when you are with friends, missing tender moments with your lover, oblivious to the beauty of a sunny day or the place you are in short, missing out on life.
Mindfulness Meditation is about learning to experience life fully as it unfolds—moment by moment. One popular misconception about meditation is that it is a way to make your mind blank so you can escape from what you are feeling. However, author Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn wants you to understand that meditation is an invitation to wake up, experience the fullness of your life, and transform your relationship with your problems, your fears, and any pain and stress in your life so that they don’t wind up controlling you and eroding the quality of your life and your creativity. It is not about running away, or manipulating mental states.
Through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to develop greater calmness, clarity and insight in facing and embracing all your life experiences, even life’s trials, and turning them into occasions for learning, growing and deepening your own strength and wisdom.
In this program, internationally-known meditation teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn shows you how to:
- Access your own deep inner resources for learning, growing and healing
- Enrich your experience of everyday living by being fully present in the moment
- Reduce stress by responding creatively rather than reacting mindlessly
- Bring greater clarity and understanding to everything you do
- Function more effectively within your apparent limitations and problems by cultivating your fundamental strengths
- Reestablish contact with your physical body to heighten and expand experiences of pleasure and vitality
- Reduce or overcome addictive or self-destructive behavior patterns
- Develop a strong daily meditation practice
We are all really excited for our first yoga retreat in Cornwall. Glamping with a view from the sea, great organic food, yoga on the beach and sitting around a fire star gazing. The £99 Yoga break got even better when we met Dan. Dan is our activity guru and has got plenty of activities in store for you if you would like an energetic break. Other yogis will prefer to sit in a meadow and meditate other may want to try something new. Whatever works for you if you fancy some aqua zorbing read on.
Yoga Holidays Activity List
Students are given snugly winter 5mm wetsuits and soft surfboards and are given professional, fun and engaging surf coaching from our British Surfing Association and International Surfing Association Instructors. These sessions last for around 2 hours, but as with all these activities, we can be flexible to suit your needs.
Armed with snugly winter 5mm wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets, the group is lead around a stretch of coastline at Rame Head. Most of the activity is based in the water, experiencing the rise and fall of the ocean around rock formations, gullies and caves. It’s so much fun, it’s like being in a washing machine and a natural water park all at the same time. We also do some traversing along the waterline and small jumps building up to fairly hefty ones at the end of the coast. There are some resident seals along this stretch of coast too as well as the occasional basking shark and sometimes dolphins. These sessions last for around 3 hours.
Cocooned inside a 2 meter diameter bubble of air, riders experience walking on water (but probably just falling with style and laughing lots!). Dan runs an evening session on Sundays in the safety of the swimming pool at nearby Whitsand Bay Holiday Park. On still days when conditions allow, he also runs sessions in the sea.
Dan is able to offer wild and woolly horse riding on Dartmoor for groups of 6-10 people
So many yogis and yogini’s have got in touch with us and outlined that there is no way they can afford £400 – £500 Yoga holidays, Yoga breaks or even Yoga weekends. Considering the current state and how we find ourselves in the UK and beyond. More people want to spend part of their holiday in the UK and they need it to be affordable. We responded by hitting the Yoga Wellbeing drawing board and coming up with the concept for the £99 Yoga Holiday. It’s the first Yoga Holiday for £99 and we are creating an opportunity for everyone to enjoy. Including unemployed yogis, elderly yogis and yoga loving families.
Yoga in London for some can become about fitting classes in and losing track of the main root. So we are trying to bring it all back to what’s important. Yoga outdoors, meditation good organic food, good people and an open fire. What more do you need.
So if you feel like the purse strings are a bit tight at the moment and that you can’t even take a break or holiday this year. Then this might just be the Yoga break for you. Click here if you would like to join us.