Chakra System

Yoga in Bondi Beach Park

Welcome to Spring!

I’m excited to announce that my beach permit is on the way and I’ll be teaching in the freshly renovated Beach Park for Summer.

Come and practice yoga in the Park (starting November 1), relax and revitalise with yoga under the trees, feel the summer breeze on your skin as you inhale the oceanic energy.

All classes 1 hour.

See timetable here.

Nameste
Justine
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2017 Yoga and Wellness Retreat :: Paperbark Camp

This Autumn I’m very excited to be offering another Yoga and Wellness Retreat in collaboration with Camilla at the stunning Paperbark Camp. This amazing bush setting encourages a very nurturing, relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Here is the scene last year, relaxing in savasana fireside…

Please get in contact if you are interested in future retreats as this one booked out fast.

Justine

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Do you wear sunglasses at night?

I love screens, I love my phone, and I like playing computer games at night, and enjoy curling up in bed reading from my ipad. The problem is as I journey down the yogic path and tune more into cause and effect, I notice when I don’t use screens at night I sleep a whole lot better…

Why?

Exposure to light at night interferes with your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland (connected to our third eye) and is the hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. Any artificial light at night can interfere with your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion but the worst offender is blue light.

Harvard researches have now shown that blue light suppresses melatonin for twice as long as green light, red light suppresses it the least. Unfortunately blue light is the light emitted by backlit portable screens, as well as energy efficient lighting. How annoying!

The research also states, ‘Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep…researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.’

I’m currently studying natural rhythms and how we evolve body habits so I’m really interested in this research. Adjusting your rhythms to adapt to the rhythms of nature is one of the best ways to increase your energy levels. Check out my post on amplifying your energy here.

What can you do?

I don’t fancy wearing those Bono style blue light-blocking glasses and I’m not going to stop using technology.

The most practical advice I can follow is to switch off screens one hour or even two hours if you can manage before going to […]

Increase Immunity – more tips from ‘The Ancients’…

When I refer to the ‘Ancients’, I’m not talking about my parents or even my grandparents, I’m thinking about wisdom passed down from thousands of years ago. Let’s look at two ancient systems Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from China. What similar guidance have these traditional systems sent us?

Three layers of the body are recognized in each system, the Physical Layer, the Mental Layer and the Subtle Layer. As a yoga teacher, I’m curious about the Subtle Body. The non-visible energy channels that travel through the body are recognized in Ayurveda and are called Nadi’s and they are also acknowledged in TCM and are called Meridians, many pressure points along these energy lines are similar in both systems. To access the subtle body, both ancient wisdoms link breath and movement, think, Tai Chi, Yoga as well as Meditation.

Elements feature in both systems, TCM recognizes the five elements Fire, Water, and Earth, and in Ayurveda the 5 elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Importantly, both systems recognize the microcosm and macrocosm idea, what is outside is also inside, each constantly influencing and affecting the other. In other words how we interact with our environment will hugely influence our energy.

Practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Meditation are the best way to start to access the subtle body. When we strengthen and heal the subtle body we will amplify our energy but also strengthen our body on a cellular level and build immunity. To dive in deeper come and try a yin yoga class!

See you on the mat!

Justine

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Ujjayi Pranayama – Victorious Breath

Each yoga class begins by bringing our awareness to the breath. We concentrate on deliberately linking breath and movement. It is through the breath that we are able to start to connect to the subtle body and the deeper energy reserves in the body.

The breath we use mostly in a Hatha Yoga class as we move through the asanas (poses) is called Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) Breath. Ujjayi Breath can be translated as Victorious Breath. It is where we inhale and exhale through the nostrils while slightly contracting the back of the throat. This makes an ocean like sound.

Here are some of the many benefits of this type of breathing :
• Slows the breath down.
• Calms the mind.
• Strengthens the nervous system.
• Strengthens the digestive system.
• Improves concentration and brings awareness to the physical movement.
• Warms the body.
• Directing the ujjayi breath to certain parts of the body can release tension and tightness in specific areas.

How to do it:
• Find a comfortable seat
• Begin by exhaling through the nose
• Inhale through the nose, partially narrowing the passageway through the throat.
• Exhale through an open mouth as though you were trying to fog a mirror, making a ‘hhhhaaa’ sound.
• Try this a couple of times.
• Now repeat but close the mouth as you exhale.
• Repeat a few times allowing the breath to flow smoothly and softly like waves in the ocean. You can place your hands over your ears to hear the sound more clearly.

Relax and enjoy this deep smooth breathing as you feel the prana circulate around the body.

Justine
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Meditation and Chakra Seven

The Crown Chakra – Sahasrara

Last week I dragged my husband to a conference where the fabulous Dr Robert Svoboda, an Ayurvedic Physician from America spoke.

I enjoyed every minute of the the 3.5 hours talk on Ayurveda, Consciousness, Yoga etc, my husband, not so much. I’ve learnt my lesson and next time I’ll leave him in the pub with a beer – oh well, horses for courses…. Anyway since that evening, one of Dr Svoboda’s quotes has echoed in my mind….

‘The manifested universe acts as a mirror for supreme reality’

Where is this supreme reality and how do we connect to it, you ask? (unless you’re my husband and you don’t ask)

Through the study of the subtle body, Sahsrara Chakra is the place where we can connect to this supreme reality that’s beyond the duality of our material world. You may also like to call it a higher power or your inner wisdom or god.

This chakra is located at the crown of the head and is associated with thought and consciousness, it is connected on a physical level to the pituitary gland. When we have balance in this chakra we are more aware, and are less likely to be ruled by our unconscious mind.

However, just as the ‘thousand petal lotus’ that symbolizes this chakra turns down to incorporate all of the chakras, we must be living in the manifested world at the same time as having awareness of this limitless space.

In this modern world with the amount of information we are inundated with each day, we need to inhabit the body and the lower chakras while using the upper chakras to make sense of this information.

As one of my favourite authors Anodea Judith describes in her […]

Ajna Chakra & My grandmother’s insane healing powers!

Everyone gets sick but why do some people bounce back so much faster than others? The answer is very complex and depends on myriad factors such as individual constitution, genes, environment, and lifestyle, diet, thought patterns…I could go on and on. What I do know is that my Grandmother has insane healing powers! She is always quick to bounce back from illness and at 93 years has just had an amazing recovery from a stroke.
About 20 years ago when ‘Gigi’, as my children know her, broke her leg the Doctors were amazed at her quick recovery, especially considering her age. While I sat with her in hospital I asked her how she was healing so well.
She let me into her healing secret that I will share with you…

With her leg in plaster, throughout the day (whenever she thought of it) she was practicing a powerful visualization technique. She would close her eyes and picture her leg as a building site. She would imagine the builders arriving to work each day, thinking about every detail down to what they were wearing and what their lunchboxes looked like. She would think about this miniscule world where each builder was doing his or her part to repair the bone of her leg, she would continue to think about this until she was interrupted or bored with it. She told me this really helped with her healing and I believe it did.
I really love this story, but what does it have to do with Chakra 6 (Ajna Chakra)? This Chakra is also known as your third eye. It is located on our forehead between the two eyebrows. While our two eyes see out into the external […]

Visshudi Chakra – the Fifth Chakra

Breathe deeply….imagine or feel the breath traveling into your body. Take your attention to  the area around the neck and throat as you continue to inhale and exhale, think about the importance of this area of the body. It is an incredible intersection of vital channels, the jugular, the carotid artery, the windpipe, larynx and of course the spinal cord connecting the brain and the nervous system.

This throat area is the location of the fifth chakra, Visshudhi chakra. Its function is expression and communication and it is related to our dreams.  When this chakra is open we are able to communicate and listen effectively. We respond to the vibration of things for example the tone of a voice rather than what is being said.

Is your fifth Chakra Blocked?

Do you have a sore throat or laryngitis? Do you suffer from creative blocks?  Do you every feel like you have a lump in the throat? Do you  have difficulty getting your point across or have trouble communicating? Your fifth chakra maybe blocked. Here are a couple of yoga poses and a pranayama exercise to help to get in touch with Visshudhi Chakra.

Yoga Poses to try

Ustrasana – camel pose, for instructions please click here to see my page on the heart chakra as it opens both.

Salamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand

This pose has pages of benefits, just to name just a few:

Relieves insomnia and soothes nervous system
Improves functioning of thyroid and parathyroid glands (directly related to vishudhi chakra)
Improves digestion
Therapeutic for asthma
Helps regulate menstrual cycle

How to do shoulder stand*:

Stack 2-3 blankets at the end of your yoga mat.
Lie with your head and shoulders on the blankets so that the tops of your shoulders are approx.  1 hands distance from […]

Manipura Chakra – Spark the Fire Within

Manipura can be broken down into two words, Mani= gem and Pura=city, it is often referred to as ‘city of jewels’ or ‘lustrous gem’.

On a physical level this Chakra is located around our navel and on an energetic level it is the third Chakra in the Chakra System. It is the seat of our personal power, our ‘get up and go’, our self-esteem and our ability to make things happen.  As energy is built on the stabilizing and grounding power of the earth element in Muladhara Chakra, we add the energy from the flow of water in Svadhisthana. These two elements working together allow the transformational power of fire in Manipura to work its magic. Added to this we have consciousness flowing down from the realm of the higher chakras, directing our intentions (more on these Chakras in future posts). Manipura Chakra is our Power Chakra the reality around us radiates from this lustrous gem as transformation takes place. It is from this place we make our intentions real. At times we may feel ‘stuck in a rut’ or a sluggishness or inertia has set in, we may need to focus on this Chakra.

If you find your ‘get up and go’ has got up and gone, please try the following Yoga and Meditation exercises and see if it makes a difference. If you have any success, please let me know in the comments below.

Yoga

Any exercises that work on our core can be stimulating to our Manipura Chakra. One pose that springs to mind is Navasana also known as Boat Pose. This pose is an advanced pose and not usually a favourite in Yoga classes but it is definitely powerful and works on the Manipura […]

Breath of Fire – Kapalabhati Pranayama

Do you need more fire in your belly, more ‘pep in your step’? Do you feel tired and sluggish? A bit of ‘Skull shinning’ breathing maybe just what you need!

Kapalabhati is translated as  ‘Skull Shinning’ and this breathing technique is also known as ‘Breath of Fire’ as it helps to spark the fire within.

This type of breathing is sometimes performed in Martial Arts and plays a big part in Kundalini Yoga. Note: this is an advanced breathing technique please don’t attempt until you know the basics of Yoga.

Benefits

Benefits lungs and respiratory system
Increases oxygenation of the blood helping to detoxify the body more effectively
Balances the nervous system
Increases vitality and clarity
Reduces sluggishness or fatigue
Improves concentration

How to do it

Sit comfortably, keeping the head and spine upright.
Close your eyes or keep your gaze low.
Place your hands on your lower belly.
Start by breathing in through the nostrils (mouth is kept close) and then making a forced exhale through both nostrils, as you exhale draw the belly button towards the spine. I like to imagine a conveyor belt of candles moving slowly towards my face, and I need to extinguish each candle with an exhale through the nostrils. You do not need to force the inhale, the inhale will happen naturally.
Take a couple of rounds of 30 breaths, eventually you may work your way to 108 breaths (108 is considered a sacred number in many Eastern traditions as well as yoga practice).
Notice the effect this pranayama has on you, you may feel a slight tingling sensation around the front of the skull, hence the name ‘skull shining breath’.
For more advanced versions using breath retention, please work with your yoga instructor.

Contra-indications

Do not do this if you are pregnant or menstruating or […]