Chandra Namaskar

Friday Flow: Soma Namaskar

This month I'm embarking on a new project, which probably won't become a weekly segment on the blog (it simply takes too long to draw all these postures!), but might become a monthly occurrence. The best way to be in the know when new blogposts are published is by following my Facebook page and/or Instagram feed. In this Friday Flow series I'll share some of my favourite sequences that I'm currently teaching in my public classes. You can practice them in your own time or even print them out so you can take your practice with you wherever you go. Each flow is designed as a 75-90 mins class so move through these postures with controlled precision and be mindful of how your body feels throughout.

I will be sharing these as an illustrated series, rather than instructional videos, as I would like to encourage you to 'feel' your way into good alignment, which I believe means something different for every body. With instructional videos and photos there is often a subconscious tendency to want to 'copy' the teacher, whereas illustrations leave a bit more room for our imagination to fill in the blanks and for you to explore how each pose works best within your body. For that same reason I am purposefully keeping my instructions as minimal as I can, but you can of course Google the asanas by name should you require further explanation (try to avoid using Google Images). On that same note, I tend to refer to asanas by their Sanskrit name as opposed to the English translation wherever possible as this is considered best practice.

This first sequence that I'm sharing here is inspired by Soma Namaskar as it was taught to me by my teacher and the creator of Prana Yoga, Shiva Rea. It forms part of her wider ideas surrounding Soma Prana Vinyasa and the art of Lunar Namaskar, which really means that it's a perfect sequence to practice around a full moon or when we want to cultivate a more grounding, calming energy through yoga. The word 'Soma' is often translated from Sanskrit as our inner nectar of longevity, but is also the literal name for the 'Soma' ceremonial elixir used in ancient Vedic ceremonies. It gives name to the mysterious alchemy of the bodily hormones that help us to regenerate and find equilibrium.

If you're looking for some music to accompany this practice I would suggest my YOGA: slow playlist on Spotify and be sure to tag me if you give this flow a try.

Happy yogaing,

Oceana x

Illustrations © estudio mosa 2018

Mudra Monday: Garuda Mudra

Garuda-Mudra.jpg

Named after the mystical bird that carries Vishnu (the lord of preservation), the spotlight is on Eagle Seal this week

Garuda, the opponent of snakes, emperor of the birds and the air, inspired this Mudra, which symbolises the wings of a bird and represents our inner freedom. It helps to balance our energy on both sides of the body, particularly for those with a Vata Dosha. To perform the Mudra, turn the palms of your hands to face up, then cross your right hand over your left, while simultaneously clasping your thumbs.

I personally love to use this Mudra as part of my Pranayama practice, which is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force energy.

Garuda-Pranayama.jpg

I send my inhalation deep into the belly as my hands form Garuda Mudra over my heart centre.

 

 

On exhalation I open my hands out to the side and lift my chest towards the ceiling, gently arching the upper spine. This encourages the natural upward movement of the exhale.

If we are very used to the Ashtanga way of breathing where we raise the arms on the inhalation (e.g. during Sun Salutations), it can initially feel quite unusual to be drawing our attention inwards on the inhalation, which is a technique that is more commonly used in Tantric Buddhist meditation. However, once we internalise this way of breathing deep down into the root of our body as we inhale and it begins to feel natural, it tends to have a very calming effect on our mental state and is a particularly useful tool for those suffering from anxiety or panic attacks.

This very beautiful way of visualising the breath was taught to me by my teacher Shiva Rea as part of the elemental, lunar Namaskars that are practiced in Prana Yoga and I do find it particularly helpful when I'm having trouble sleeping due to the heightened energy around a full moon. If full moons impact your body in a similar way or, you suffer from insomnia, you could also perform several cycles of this same movement lying down without arching the spine. Reduce your hand movements to a minimum and focus your attention primarily on the breath; sending your inhalation deep into your belly and the exhalation melting the back of your torso into your mattress a little more each time.

Elements: All.

If you'd like to know more about Hasta Mudras you can read my introduction to the topic here and find all previous Mudra Monday blogs here.

Illustration © estudio mosa 2017