Three Jewels Yoga & Pilates

Peace Power Purity


GUEST COLUMN: … it’s all about the breathe, really …

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 flowiIMG_0015ng.

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.

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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.

All because I was told to breathe.


Recipes – for a Yogic Lunch

Ahimsa (non-violence) has been referred to in the ancient Vedic texts as ‘Do not harm anything’ and is an important aspect of the code of conduct of a yoga practitioner.  This principle of Ahimsa is challenged by the food chain hierarchy as one has to eat other living beings (whether plants or animals) in order to survive.  In such a situation, a practical approach is prescribed to have a vegetarian diet where harm to living beings (in particular those with more developed senses) is kept to a minimum.

In Ayurvedic terms, a Yogic diet comprises of food which are of a Sattvic (pure) nature such as fresh fruits,  salads and grains.  Hot and spicy or very cold foods are Rajasic in nature and cause excitement.  Fried foods are examples of Tamasic foods which make you feel heavy and bloated.  Such IMG_1557types of foods are to be avoided.  Sattvic foods are those which keep you satisfied and, are energising and refreshing.

 

 

Watch this video which shows a freshly prepared Sattvic Yogic lunch and here are the delicious recipes which go with it.

 

 


Winter Warmer Drink

Here’s a traditional Indian winter warmer drink to make.

All ingredients readily available in Indian grocery stores and leading supermarkets.

It’s a soothing caffeine-free alternative to coffee and tea.

Quick to make and simply delicious.


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 4

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.  Modern lifestyles mean that time has become too short and we keep chasing dreams projected by social media.  This has lead to a reduction in our bearing power – ie the power to withstand when things do not go as one would like.

Part 4: Endurance and Resilience

Warrior4quoteforarticle

The ability to keep going forward even when hard knocks take one two steps back has become increasingly important.  This requires one to be both physically and mentally fit – strengthening the core and channelling mental energy in the right direction rather than letting it dissipate.

 

 

 

Warrior 3 : Virabhadrasana 3

Warrior 3(4) for articleThe qualities of endurance and resilience are illustrated perfectly when doing the Warrior 3 pose.  The pose improves balance, posture, and full-body coordination.  It requires the alignment of physical body and focus of the mind in order to stand on one leg with the arms, back and the extended other leg to remain in a straight horizontal plane.  The intricacies of the pose and how the body and the mind respond to the pose are important observations to make.

Just as it took time to get into the best Warrior 3 on the mat, you know with time and dedication, you can transform the biggest struggles into strengths.  Indeed and just as on the mat, amidst the daily challenges of modern urban living, your inner warrior will rise to the occasion and get you through anything.

 

 

 


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 3

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.  An important quality of such a warrior is humility.

Part 3: Humility

Reverse Warrior quote for article

In a competitive urban environment, it may seem that the only way to get ahead in the rat race is by pushing yourself forward and crushing others.  However, doing this only causes unhappiness and misery.  Instead and to be at peace with oneself, put the needs of others before our own and think of others before yourself.  Perhaps also we need to learn to acknowledge that we may not always be right.

Reverse Warrior : Viparita Virabhadrasana 

We worked on the Reverse Warrior posture to explore humility further.  On one side we reverse-warrior1 for articlereflected on the open palm recalling when we were not so humble in our interaction with other people and the feelings which overcame us then.  On the other side we again reflected on the raised palm recounting occasions when we have been humble and the positive peaceful feelings we were enveloped with then.

So, from a practical off-the-mat perspective, we can practice humility by spending more time listening than talking, giving due credit to others, giving opportunities to others, praising others, seeking advice and admitting when we are wrong, etc.

 


The Modern Urban Warrior Series – Part 2

Each one of us who lives in a metropolitan city is a modern urban warrior.

We continue to explore here the qualities of such a modern urban warrior.

IMG_6267 PICPart 2: Adjustment and Tolerance

The cities are getting more and more crowded and competitive.  We meet many different people all the time.  Despite all our differences, how can we all live together harmoniously and not get overly caught up in the daily grind?  By understanding our differences so as to make adjustments and tolerate these differences.

Warrior 2 : Virabhadrasana 2

The Warrior 2 posture wonderfully demonstrates these qualities.                                                                                          warrior 2 picture for article

The arms are moving away from each other and yet we can remain in posture by focusing  steadfastly into the future along the length of the front arm and without looking back.  And breathing into and tolerating the burn in the biceps. The knee of the bent front leg keeps rolling in and out, constantly adjusting, so as to keep its stability over the heel-ankle.

The yogi is able to hold Warrior 2 for many minutes and it is this very same tolerance and adjustment that helps us deal with modern urban living.