So I’ve been to four retreats in the last couple of months, reviewing them for Queen of Retreats. The Body Retreat. Vital Detox. Middle Piccadilly. The Sanctuary Somerset. All very different and I’ve loved them all. But, as someone pointed out on Twitter recently, it’s all well and good if you can afford to swan off to these places but if you can’t…? And I thought, fair point. I also thought that really, I need to find a way to bring the peace and serenity on retreat back into everyday life. As Juls at the Body Retreat said, if you only make a few small changes, they will lead on to bigger changes. And Paola, the yoga teacher at The Sanctuary said that, even if you do just one yoga move every day, you will start to shift.
So. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been getting up and hour earlier than usual. I light a candle, fire up a joss stick and bung on a CD of Tibetan chanting. And I’ve been doing some simple yoga moves before settling down to meditate for about half an hour. Okay, so it’s early days but so far, so good.
But I can’t do yoga, I hear you say. Oh, but the first few bits of this are so so easy. Really.
1. Neck rolls. Simply stand in a balanced easy posture and slowly, ever so slowly, let your ear drop down to your left shoulder, then circle down so your chin is moving towards your collar bone and then up to the right shoulder and (very gently) backwards. Repeat several times...really really slowly... and then go back the other way. Releasing, letting go.
2. Shoulder shrugs. Arms by your sides. Bring each shoulder up to your ear in a rapid alternate shrugging motion. It’s quite vigorous but you can alter the pace to suit yourself. Keep it going for a few minutes. Energizing, loosening, awakening, creating heat in the body.
3. Now stand still. Find the bottom of your sternum. Place the first three fingers of your left hand under it. Take your right thumb and poke it into the point directly under the fingers. Take away the left hand and start to massage the point with your right thumb in a clockwise direction. It may be tender or even painful – adjust the pressure so it’s bearable. Keep going for several minutes if possible and then swap thumbs and work the same point with your left thumb in an anti-clockwise direction. This point is three finger widths from the bottom of the breastbone (sternum). This is a point called the Sea of Tranquillity and it’s helpful in the relief of tension in the chest, anxiety, nervousness, and depression.
4. Let’s just finish with the simple standing forward bend. Padahastasana. This stretches out the entire back of the body, from head to heels, lengthening the spine and helping it become more flexible. It massages all the internal organs, especially the digestive organs (so can ease constipation). It can relieve sciatica, invigorates the nervous system and increases the supply of blood to the brain. It’s also said to remove fat from the abdomen! On an energetic level, it is grounding, earthing, energizing and it shifts inertia, allowing you to move forwards. It stimulates and balances muladhara chakra, the base chakra situated around the perineum. Not bad, huh?
a. Stand up straight, shoulders relaxed, ankles and knees touching. Now inhale as you reach up, arms straight over your head, arms touching your ears.
b. Exhale and bend forwards from the hips (don’t collapse), keeping your back straight for as long as possible. Keep your legs straight. Don’t worry if you can’t touch the floor, just keep the idea of it in your mind.
c. Stand firmly and visualise earth energy coming up through your feet and passing right through your body and down into your hands. Eventually, with practice, you will be able to place your hands under your feet and bring your head to your knees. But even if you just hang, that’s absolutely fine.
d. Stay for as long as feels comfortable, breathing comfortably and enjoying the sensation of earth energy moving into and through your body.
|Actually, she looks a bit unbalanced but you get the idea.|
That’s enough for one day, huh? Even if you just try one…it could be the start of something. J