It is in these times – when all that we took for granted has turned upside down – that we remember our downward facing dog. So many times we have gone into the posture and looked at the world upside down. We have practised being in an upside down world and so we know what we need to do. Breathe deep, observe what is going on within and without and stay positive. For this time too shall pass.
As the UK goes into partial lockdown, we request all our students to follow the Government guidelines to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives. Borrowing the words from HM the Queen, do take this time “to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation”. The world, as we knew it, has changed. By something which is on the edge of being life and yet capable of destroying human life. Perhaps a reckoning for what mankind has destroyed?
To maintain and boost your wellbeing during this time, please refer to the resources on this website covering Yoga, Pilates and Nutrition, our YouTube channel for exercise and recipe inspiration and our Facebook page. Drop us a line by clicking here.
Richard writes about how his triathlon pursuits have been significantly improved by breath work during his yoga practice
Swimming, cycling, running and breathing by Richard– City of London – Dec 2018
I have been training to compete in triathlons for about five years, and after making gains in terms of speed and technique across the disciplines of swimming, cycling and running, my progress began to plateau. With this in mind, a year ago I was seeking a yoga class to complement my training to ensure I could continue to make improvements in my performance. This is on the basis that yoga is a key part of the training programme of most elite athletes (including triathletes).
I booked Priya’s hatha yoga class (not quite knowing what to expect), and haven’t looked back. The improvements have been remarkable, not only in terms of my core strength, but my whole body (in particular my spine) and mind are now more relaxed (which in a race is an important skill to have, as I often become tense). Priya has brilliantly (and cheerfully) guided our class over the last twelve months with a range of movements which have increased flexibility and posture, whilst challenging our minds and bodies in each practice. These sessions are now paying dividends, as I am able to take more efficient strides when I run (which has made me faster), ensured I am more relaxed on the bike by reducing my tendency to have tense shoulders which in-turn has helped me get more power with each pedal rotation. When I swim my body is much higher and longer in the water, which helps me have a more efficient stroke.
One aspect of Priya’s classes which I was not expecting (but which is central to yoga) is breathing. My breathing is now much slower and more controlled, which in-turn allows me to focus on my technique during my yoga practice and also whilst triathlon training. As triathlon is an endurance sport, being able to control my breathing for a long period is key. This allows my mind to focus on good swim/bike/run technique whilst reducing the stress on my body.
I still have much to learn (my balance needs a lot of work), but I would highly recommend Priya’s yoga classes to all athletes looking to improve their performance.
Why are we so dissatisfied? Rather than seeking temporary happiness in the material world, can we enjoy our daily tasks?
The fast paced world we live in today seems to be gathering more speed year by year. Time is short as more and more must be packed into life. This is fueled by the smartphone – the morning commute is not complete if we’ve not scrolled through Instagram and tapped a few orders into Amazon. And we need to keep up with the Jones’. Right? Instant gratification is the norm. But we are still not satisfied and the pattern repeats itself day in day out…. And time is short! The lure of the external world too strong.
The flip side of this is that our everyday tasks become burdensome to the point that you want to escape from having to do them and remain glued to the smartphone. And then if you are not able to fulfil the desires created by the smartphone you becomes even more resentful and unhappy, especially of our routine daily life.
Rather than reaching outwards to fulfil our desires, we experimented this year with ‘finding JOY in the ordinary’. We considered each aspect of our life – our daily chores, our work life, our leisure time. Do we find our daily routine chores mundane? Or is shopping for groceries done with enthusiasm? Are we always seeking thrills by having adventurous hobbies and holidays? Are we grateful for all the conveniences we have in our daily life or do we take it for granted? Do we appreciate our jobs/work and our colleagues? Or do we gossip and complain? Upon introspection perhaps we need to modify or change our thinking and learn to enjoy the routine in our lives. It stabilizes us and grounds us. And it makes a difference….
Bill commented that the reflections in yoga class on ‘finding JOY in the ordinary’ have helped him calm down and focus on his daily routine more effectively. He has been going through a low patch in life and has not been finding it easy to sleep. The weekly reminders in class over the year and looking at different aspects of his life with a fresh joyful perspective has had a profound positive impact on him.
Beccy writes about how breathing fully has changed her yoga practice
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out by Beccy– City of London – Aug 2018
Of all the exercise I do, yoga makes me most mindful of my breathing. Not only to give a rhythm to the movements, but to remain centred. To block out the other noises around me. To focus internally. To ease the muscles that little bit deeper into each stretch. To keep the body flowing.
Breathing is something that comes second nature, without thought, every day. But when it’s brought to the forefront of your mind in a yoga class it can be difficult to understand its importance until you see drastic improvements.
I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for 10 years, but until early 2017 hadn’t felt any real improvements in my movements, balance or flexibility for a long time. When I started with Three Jewels, the first difference – to any other class I’ve taken – was being told to focus on my breath instead of the movements.
My mind had always been focused on getting into position and thinking “I’m doing yoga’’. I didn’t quite understand the importance of focusing on how I was breathing until I noticed how much longer I could hold warrior postures and downward-facing-dog. Then how much deeper into these postures I could get. Then how much closer I could get to my legs in a forward bend. How much easier it felt to hold balances. How much easier it was becoming to push my body to go that little bit further with each practice.
All because I was told to focus on my breath, letting the movements flow with my breathing instead of the other way around. It’s the key element to any practice I do now, and I’ve seen more improvements in my own ability in the past 18 months than I had done the 8 years prior.