Blog

COVID-19 UPDATE

We are currently inundated with information about what is being described as the almost wartime challenge presented to us by Coronavirus and I'm not about to add to it.  Initially there was no requirement or suggestion to cancel small gatherings such as a yoga class but the advice has now changed.

As a result, with regret  but unhesitatingly in the circumstances, I have suspended all my classes and seminars and the home meditation group from 17th March 2020.  I hope to resume when it is safe to do so.  I will send out by email suggested practice plans to the various student groups.  And perhaps (only perhaps) I'll be able to overcome my technophobia and find ways of teaching online.  

Stay well everyone; remember yoga practice begins with kindness to ourselves and generates outwards from there. 

Here's a copy of the great healing mantra the Mahamitrunjaya - maybe you'd like to chant or say it on a daily basis for healing, power, transformation, immunity and strength: 

       

Begin by chanting the mantra AUM 3 times then

AUM TRYAMBAKAṂ YAJĀAMAHE

SUGANDHIṂ PUṢHṬI-VARDHANAM

URVĀA RUKAMIVA BANDHANĀA(T)

MṚITYOR MUKṢHĪYA MĀAMṚITĀT

 

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI (at the end of however many rounds you're reciting)

 

We pay homage to the universal consciousness which nourishes all beings.  May we be liberated from ignorance through knowledge of our immortal essence, just as the cucumber is severed from the bondage of the vine.

Translation by Swami Niranjanananda

 

 

Tags: 

Winter Greetings and review of 2019

Another year almost over, as we approach the Winter Solstice on Sunday 22 December; of course Christmas on Wednesday 25th and the beginning not just of a new year the following week but a new decade.  And not forgetting that 2020 is a Leap Year so we have an extra day to fill!

Weekly classes have finished for now but will start again week beginning 6th January 2020. 

For me, as most of you know, it's been quite a momentous year from a health point of view.  Apart from a break after the brain surgery in May I have been able to continue teaching, albeit having to reduce the number of weekly classes.  I was lucky (and grateful) to have most of my weekly classes covered by colleagues until I could start teaching again in July.  I'm sure much of my progress was due to a very simple and gentle home practice, especially pranayama, and a fabulous healing meditation, shared with me by Swami GyanDharma, from his Prana Vidya course.  

In August I was able to keep to a commitment to take a programme on Prana and Pranayama, developed for the EUY Annual Congress in Zinal in 2018, to Finland, hosted by the Finnish Yoga Association at their stunning Yoga Centre near Saarijarvi, deep in the forested heart of the country.  I had my first ever smoke sauna in the traditional style, including bathing in the chilly waters of the nearby lake Saarijarvi (pictured).  Wim Hof (aka The Iceman) may not have been impressed if he'd been there - the water was definitely not icy cold and I didn't stay in long - but it was a beautiful heart-full experience: sharing the sauna space, chatting, even singing a traditional song taught to one participant by her grandfather, to get his sixteen grandchildren into and out of the sauna.

In September I started a programme of Saturday morning seminars on Prana, Pranayama and Neuroscience at Dechmont in West Lothian - great fun for me to revise and update my prior knowledge.  Turns out it was a tad unrealistic to think I could complete the topic in 4 sessions (12 hours) (see previous newsletter, August 2019) - at a guess we're only about halfway through so the programme will continue in 2020.  More on that later but Dechmont fans please save the dates - second Saturday each month, commencing Saturday February 8th.  There has been some interest in my running the first part of the course again, in a different venue, if time and other considerations including my own health permit.  I’m still exploring that – suggestions have ranged from somewhere in Edinburgh to possibly Galashiels. 

In November I completed a three-day training programme on Accessible Yoga, led by Jivana Heyman, and qualified as an Accessible Yoga Ambassador.  Here's part of his inspiring statement about the philosophy behind the movement:

"Accessible Yoga is dedicated to sharing the benefits of yoga with anyone who currently  does not have access to these practices, and with communities that have been excluded or under-served.  All people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient practices of yoga, which offer individual empowerment and spiritual awakening."

I've been teaching a weekly specialist class in West Lothian  for people with limited physical mobility for the best part of a decade now, recently with the invaluable help of a colleague, Elaine, who trained with Yoga Scotland.  The challenge implicit in Jivana's philosophy is that all classes should be as inclusive as possible, rather than having specialist themes.  I hope to be able to rise to this challenge next year...but I need to have my driving licence restored first! 

I hope you all have a peaceful joy-filled Festive Season and that we'll continue working and learning together when classes start again in January.

With love and OMMMs

Bijam

 

 

Tags: 

The Dechmont Seminars - Pranayama and neuroscience 2019

Yoga seminars in the Dechmont Memorial Hall began some 15 years ago, instituted and taught by Yoga Jayanti (Jane Russell) until 2017, when she went to live in Portugal. Since then Yoga Jayanti's regular attenders have by consensus kept the seminars going as often as possible.  Essentially we are a group of Yoga Jayanti's friends and students who just want to carry on meeting regularly, enjoying  one another's company, devotion to yoga,  and practices including asanas, pranayama, yoga nidra (especially yoga nidra!) and meditation.

For the autumn of 2019 the theme will be Pranayama and neuroscience, four linked sessions in September, October, November and December.

There is almost certainly a connection between the (hopefully successful) surgery I had in May 2019 for the removal of a meningioma, a tumour involving the meningeal covering of the brain.  Naturally I have been revising my knowledge of the brain and nervous system and finding yoga practices, especially pranayama and meditation, very helpful in the healing process. I have been wonderfully supported by my principal pranayama teacher Philip Xerri, whose course I first took in 2001 -2 and am currently repeating.   I have also been studying online with Kristine Kaoveri Weber, a yoga teacher in the USA whose system of Subtle Yoga feels very similar to Satyananda Yoga.  Over the last ten years or so Kristine has done a lot of research on the Yoga and Neuroscience connection and presents insights from research that supports what most of us have intuitively discovered from our own practice about the healing power of yoga.

In some ways the course builds on the foundational Progressive Pranayama course I have taught in various locations over the past two years (including in Zinal in 2018 and Finland this year); but I hope  it will also develop more of the connection between yogic and western scientific knowledge.  

The programme will include

  • Overview / revision of the brain and nervous system
  • Stress and the autonomic nervous system
  • Chronic inflammation (including auto-immune disorders) and its impact on health
  • Breath-centred asanas, pranayama, yoga nidra and meditation practices to balance the autonomic nervous system, especially moving from over-activity (sympathetic stimulation) towards more rest/digest (parasympathetic enhancement).
  • Tea/coffee and biscuits with discussion – hoping participants will bring their own books and other sources to share
  • Home practice schedules

Dates 14th September, 5th October, 9th November, 7th December 

Times: 10 am to 1 pm

 

 

Tags: 

Edinburgh Yoga Festival 2018

The third Edinburgh Yoga Festival is happening in May.  It raises money for Edinburgh Community Yoga because teachers donate their time and their venues.  It begins with a full weekend of events mostly at the wonderfully named Serenity Cafe, then over the week to May 20th various yoga teachers around Edinburgh are donating the money from a session or two.  You can see the whole programme on the website  www.edyogafest.co.uk

My contribution is called 

Celebrating the vital layer of our being - Sunday May 13th 2018, 1.30 - 3 pm at the Serenity Cafe Edinburgh.

The pranamaya kosha or energy sheath is the “energy department” of our system, the link between body, mind/emotions and spirit.  Prana is life; and pranayama is the control and expansion of prana.  Following the two popular 4-seminar programmes “Progressive Pranayama” I facilitated in 2017, in this 90-minute session we  will begin to look at how we can use asana practice not only for its structural benefits but also in the service of pranayama.  The breath work in asanas can bring us to a deeper, more inwardly focused place to facilitate pranayama practice; and pranayama can lead us to mantra and ultimately to meditation.  This journey is likely to be the central theme of “Progressive Pranayama 2”. 

If you're interested, you can book now via this link 

The rest of the programme looks fabulous - I'm booked for the Yin Yoga session after mine!

 

Tags: 

Winter 2018 Newsletter

It already seems the the festive season is well behind us and we're all back at our regular classes and home practice,  New Year resolutions to the fore (perhaps a better name for yoga practitioners is the Sankalpa).  It’s a great idea to have a goal for our practice, whether the starting point be primarily physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual, from which will flow an intention to practice to help us reach that goal.   Whatever your goal, the yoga tool-kit of practices has so much to offer.  But perhaps in this new year, we can start to realise that our practice isn’t confined to the yoga mat or the time of formal practice; it can and does include all aspects of life.  All spiritual traditions share this, of course.  

My svadhyaya (self-study/ study of texts) for this year is the fabulous Tantric text that says precisely that. Tantra and Yoga are considered to be one and the same.  Yoga is "union" and tantra is "expansion" through that state of union.  The text is called the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, (VBT for short) framed as a conversation between Bhairavi  (Shakti or Cosmic Energy) and Bhairava (Consciousness, also called Shiva), in which Bhairavi asks the questions. The text describes many different ways to focus and hold our own awareness so that inner illumination (Awareness ) can arise.  According to tantra, Consciousness is the fundamental "substance" of the universe; it has always existed and it always will.   It can't be described or defined:  I found this awe-inspiring quotation from the Tao Te Ching that refers to it:

Something there is, whose veiled creation was

Before the earth or sky begin to be;

So silent, so aloof and so alone, 

It changes not, nor fails, but touches all;

Conceive it as the mother of the world.

I do not know its name.....

I participated in an introduction to the meditation practices (the 112 dharanas) during a retreat at Mandala Yoga Ashram a couple of years ago but I'm planning to build on that beginning.  I  have a lot to study and practice!     Translations vary; I have 3 translations to look at:  here’s an extract from one translation of verses 1-2:

I have been listening to the hymns of creation

Enchanted by the verses

Yet still I am curious

What is this delight-filled universe, into which we find ourselves born?

What is this mysterious awareness, shimmering everywhere within it?

  At least a delight-filled universe sounds good in the dark days of January.  Perhaps it's possible through practice of these dharanas to develop the experience of openness and inner spaciousness that will allow us to be available moment to moment in life, rather then tangled up in constant (stressful) mental activity.  

 

 

 

 

Pages

RSS feed Subscribe to Blog feed