This month we will focus on building up backbend poses and opening various parts of the body which will help such as the chest and shoulders, the upper back and the hip flexors.

Out of all the movements of the spine for me my body naturally opens up into backbends and they feel amazing, for many people though, we may feel stiff and tight, with backbends being a particular challenge. This months theme, the running philosophy of The Yamas will help us to work safely with our own body as we gently open up into the back.

Backbends can help us to reduce stress and anxiety, improve our posture, increase spinal mobility and flexibility, can help to alleviate back and neck pain and give you a boost of energy and lift your mood.

March – The Yamas and the Niyamas

The yamas and the niyamas originate from the text, ‘The yoga sutras of Patanjali’. They are part of the eight limbs of yoga, each describing a different step on the ladder to realisation and are seen as a guide on how to live in order to advance along a spiritual path. The yamas and niyamas are seen as moral codes or ways of right living and core values of yoga and allow us to live in this world with ease and integrity.

By practicing the five yamas you can cultivate a deep sense of peace. The whole idea of a yoga practice is to develop a deep sense of focus, awareness, and calmness not only in the class but to take that state with us in whatever we are doing on and off the mat. Yoga is much more than stretching, bending, breathing, and meditating. The yamas can help us to expand your understanding of yoga and yourself.

Week 1Ahimsa
A Practice of Kindness and Compassion. Back bending and opening the chest and shoulders. On the mat, intend to practice non violence in action and perform the poses gracefully without force. Intend to respect and love your body’s limitations. During your yoga practice, set the intention to treat yourself with love, respect, and compassion. Take time in each posture to notice how your body feels and what it asks for.

Week 2 - Satya
True and honest life. Backbends and upper back flexibility. In our asana practice, be truthful with ourselves as to our limitations, listen to what the body is telling you and the results will fit the action. We must be honest regarding our body’s limitations. Then we can make the right decisions about how we treat ourselves. Acknowledging that our bodies and minds are constantly changing.

Week 3 - Asteya
Open the spine with backbend and twists. Committing to being non-judgemental and non-competitive in a yoga class will help in other ways. You’ll be less likely to compare yourself with the other students, who may have been practicing for many years wishing your body looked like theirs. Set the intention to honour where you are right now and focus on the process of the journey, not the destination.

Week 4 - Brahmacharya
Backbends for spinal flexibility and strength. Work in yoga to create and maintain balance. And the simplest method for achieving balance is by practicing Brahmacharya, creating moderation in all our activities. Allow yourself to focus on the practice’s deep benefits rather than the superficial ones. See yoga as a holistic tool for health, wellbeing, and spiritual development rather than just as a way to get fit and to get a toned body.

Week 5 - Aparigraha
Backbends and releasing the hip flexors. Set intentions based on a feeling you want to cultivate during your practice rather than a shape you want to master. By approaching your practice with an attitude of abundance, you’ll be able to practice with non-attachment to the outcomes. This helps you to enjoy the process and the journey a lot more.

The Yamas and the Niyamas are foundational to all yogic thought. Yoga is a sophisticated system that extends far beyond the postures; it is literally a way of living.

Deborah Adele

This Months Music

Here's the usual selection of music that Vicky has been listening to this month.

Fred WestraThe Origin of Stillness
Howard Givens and Craig PadillaA Step Achieved
Steve GornIndian Nights
Acoustic YogaLoma Mar
Benjy WetheimerDevotion
Salt of the SoundAwake
Stevin McNamaraHealing Under The Neem Tree