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.

 

The Sun Sequence with mantras

Mansukh Patel’s lifelong training in Dru Yoga makes him quite an authority on the ancient yoga sequence entitled Salutation to the Sun. Mansukh says that it is one of the most dynamic and invigorating sequences and refers to it as ‘the physician’ because its combination of movement and mantra combine to create a symphony of health and vitality.  Mansukh emphasises how this sequence skilfully tones and strengthens all the major muscle groups, increases optimum function of the major systems within the body, including circulation, respiratory and digestive.  It also encourages a strong healthy spine and, as Mansukh notes, there is a saying that we are as healthy as our spine.  In this way, Mansukh is certain that this wonderful sequence will become your greatest friend.

Traditionally, according to Mansukh, the Sun Salutation is used early in morning as the sun rises.  Mansukh invites us to take this opportunity to embrace the tremendous strength and potential that exists in you. He recommends that regular practice of the Sun Salutation will give you the strength courage and determination and enthusiasm to achieve the success you have always wanted to make your dream a reality.

Traditionally, each movement of the Salutation to the Sun is accompanied by a Sanskrit mantra, which according to Mansukh Patel act as a bridge between mind body and spirit.  Further, the mind is brought to focus on the various power centres of the body, during the practice. These power centres, or chakras, as they are known in Sanskrit, act as a gateway through which we can gain control over the power of our unconscious mind.

 

In the following instructions for practicing the Salutation, Mansukh invites the participant to perform the sequence while pausing in various postures to chant the mantra as well as focusing on its corresponding power centre.

 

Mansukh Patel’s instructions for performing the Salutation to the Sun

 

  • Stand in Tadasana, the standing position.  Bring your praying hands to your heart, visualise the rising sun as the first pink and orange rays emerge over the horizon, focus your awareness on the heart centre and chant:

 

  • Om Hram Mitreya Namaha x  2  Salutations to the friend of all

 

  • Stretch your hands out in front of you to greet the rising sun and imagine that you are taking hold of it in your palms.  As you see the sun rising begin also to raise your hands, see the sun changing colour, brilliant hues of red and orange becoming brighter and more golden.  Look up at the sun and allow that solar energy to pour into the brow centre.  Arch backwards without straining,  keep your arms straight

 

  • Return to the upright position with your hands above your head.  Breath in and focus your awareness at the brow centre and breathing out, chant:

 

Om Hrim Ravaye Namaha x 2     Salutations to the one who shines

 

  • Still imagining the sun in your hands, begin to bend forward from your waist into the forward bend, known as the ‘peace asana’.  Place the sun gently on the ground by your feet, and relax your head and arms.  Focus your awareness at the base of the spine oscillating between the base and the sacral centres.  Chant the mantra:

 

  • Om Hroom Suryaya Namaha x 2    Salutations to the one who induces activity

 

  • Now place your hands on the ground and take your right leg to the runner position the left thigh should be parallel to the ground and your right leg should be stretched as far back as is comfortable.  Place your hands on your left knee and straighten your spine pushing your chest forward.  Straighten your arms making sure that your shoulders remain relaxed.  Now slowly turn your head to the right looking over your right shoulder.  Now turn your head to the left in the same way, take your time.  Finally allowing the head to face forward.  Focus on the solar centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om Hraim Bhanavaya Namaha x 2  Salutations to the one who illumines

 

  • Now lower your hands to the ground and take your left leg back to meet the right into the inclined plane or the presser position.  Gently lower yourself to the ground and lie with your arms by your side and your left cheek to the floor.  In your own time rest your forehead on the floor and focus your awareness into the hara centre the area around the naval and feel the whole of this area pressing against the floor.  Focusing upon the hara centre chant the mantra:

 

  • Om Hroum Khagaya Namaha x 2    Salutations to the one who moves quietly through the sky

 

  • Placing your hands under the shoulders with the palms on the floor facing forward, tuck your toes under and gently raise your abdomen and hips keeping the knees and toes on the ground.  Focus on the heart centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om Hraha Pushne Namaha  x  2       Salutations to the one who gives strength

 

  • Now gently lower your body once more down the ground and relax as we prepare for the cobra posture.  Slowly lift your head from the floor and push yourself up with your arms, so your head and shoulders rise.

 

  • Try to keep your naval on the floor even if this means keeping your arms bent.  The elbows should be tucked into your sides and shoulders relaxed.  Now increase the stretch by raising your head to look up to the ceiling.  Come out of the full stretch, look forward. Focus your awareness on the throat centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hram hiranya ghabaya Namaha x 2     Salutations to the golden cosmic self

 

  • Slowly and gently come down out of the cobra and rest for a moment by placing your arms by your side and your left cheek to the floor in preparation for the dog posture.

 

  • If you are familiar with the dog posture you will appreciate that it is a fairly dynamic posture.  So do not hold for any longer than feels comfortable.  When you are ready brace yourself, tuck your toes under, bring your hand to rest either side of your shoulders and lift yourself into the inclined plane. Raise your hips into the air.  Now separate your feet two to three feet apart, place the crown of your head on the floor and if you can extend and straighten your arms out in front to form the dog posture.  Try to keep your heels on the floor. Focus your awareness on the crown centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hrim Marichaya Namaha  x 2       Salutations to the Lord of the dawn

 

  • Return to the inclined plane and lower yourself down onto the floor and take a well deserved rest for a few moments.  Place your arms by your side and left cheek to the floor

 

  • When you’re ready to continue repeat the cobra.  Bring your arms to rest either side of your shoulders elbows tucked into the sides of your body.  Allow the forehead to rest on the floor in front and slowly begin to raise the head and chest from the floor keeping your lower abdomen in contact with the floor. Feel yourself rising forward and up, finally allowing your head to extend back opening the throat now raise your head to look forward, focusing on the throat centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hroom Aditchaya Namaha  x 2       Salutations  to the son of Aditi

 

  • Lower your body down to the floor, rest for a moment as you prepare for the second runner position.   When you’re ready tuck your toes in and raise yourself into the inclined plane once more.  This time move your right leg forward, keeping your left leg extended behind you with your foot flat on the floor.  This is the runner position.  Now place your hands upon the knee right hand on top of left.  Now, rotate your head to the right and then continue this gentle flowing movement to your left.  Gently allow your head to face the front and focusing on the solar centre chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hraim Savitre Namaha  x 2             Salutations to the benevolent Mother

 

  • From the runner position place your hands on the ground either side of your right foot, straightening the right leg whilst drawing the left leg forwards.  This will naturally bring you into the peace asana once again.  Focus on the base and sacral centres and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hroum Arkaya Namaha  x 2     Salutations to the one who is fit to be praised

 

  • Gently begin to uncurl your body one vertebrae at a time, like a young fern opening to the sunlight.  Keep your arms and neck relaxed.  Finally raise your head and return into Tadasan, the standing position.  Bring your hands into the praying hands position at the heart centre and focus on the heart centre and chant the mantra:

 

  • Om hraha Bhaskaraya Namaha  x 2     Salutations to the one who leads to enlightenment

 

  • Complete the sequence by turning round three times in a clockwise direction whilst chanting the final mantra:

 

  • Om Sri Savitru Surya Narayanaya Namaha  x  3  Salutations to the Universal Spirit

 

You are now ready to embrace the day, your heart warmed and filled with vitality by this remarkable sequence.

 

In Mansukh Patel’s view, it is useful to end this sequence with the child pose as it gives a feeling of inner resolution.