Yoga Practice for Lent – Week 1

Last year I followed a Vegan diet for Lent and in previous years have given up chocolate, sweets cakes and biscuits for the 40 days of Lent.. Having already taken part in Veganuary this year in January,  I decided instead of giving something up for Lent this year I am going to practice some Yoga and Mediation every day! If you would like to join me I have attached a suggested practice for this week.  The focus of the challenge is to go back to the basic foundations of a good Yoga practice; starting with a breath awareness exercise and Earth Salutations connecting with the breath.  (you may wish to add some Sun Salutations if you feel like it or have more time).

Tapas is a Niyama from the 2nd Limb of Patanjalis Eight Limbs of Yoga.  Tapas means to burn or to create heat, but it also refers to self-discipline. For the next 6 weeks for Lent we will need some Tapas (self discipline) for our challenge of yoga practice and meditation every day!
The good thing is that you only need to spend a few minutes each day to see the benefits of a regular practice.  …. so take little steps.. I do hope you find some time to join me!

Any questions let me know… Good luck!

Week 1 homework:
Basic Breathing Practice (this can be done at any time of the day or night for as long as you like)

Breath awareness prepares us for Pranayama, the 4th Limb of Patanjalis Eight Limbs of Yoga. Pranayama means control of the breath and this is often a focus in Meditation or Dhyana which is the 7th Limb of Patanjalis Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Step 1 – Bring awareness to the breath and observe it, don’t try to control it. Notice each inhale and exhale and observe the quality of the breath, the depth of each breath and the length of each breath. Spend a couple of minutes or longer observing the breath.

Step 2 – The breath can be sectioned into three parts; lower (abdominal/diaphragmatic breath) middle (middle chest/thoracic) and upper (upper chest/collar bones/clavicle)

Bring your awareness to each of the three parts of the breath in turn, starting with the abdominal breath. You can ‘feel’ each element of the breath by placing your hands on the lower abdominal area, middle and upper chest areas.

Step 3 – Practice the ‘three part breath’ in both a seated position and in supine or semi-supine. When all three parts of the breath are working in a steady controlled manner with a good proportion of lung capacity being used, this is called the full yogic breath.

2.Earth Salutations earth-salutations-01Instructions:

  1. Start kneeling sitting on the heels… Inhale lift the hips up and reach arms overhead
  2. Exhale stretch back into Balasana (child’s pose) hips towards heels
  3. Inhale into ‘Cow’ position gently gazing upwards
  4. Exhale into Downward facing dog
  5. Inhale into ‘Cow’ position gently gazing upwards
  6. Exhale back into Balasana (child’s pose)
  7. Inhale lift the hips up and reach arms overhead
  8. Exhale lower back to kneeling position

This is a nice warm up sequence, try and follow each movement with the breath.
Repeat 5 times.
Option: Practice one round with the eyes closed; this is a withdrawal of one of the senses and allows a focus inward. (Pratyahara The 5th Limb of Patanjalis Eight Limbs of Yoga)

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