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Contrary to the idea that we should all be busy all the time and ‘getting things done’ at all hours of the day, entering into deep relaxation actually makes us more productive, focused and efficient.
On top of that, it reduces the chances of the body suffering from health issues that arise as a result of extended periods of stress. Yogis have known this for centuries; but now modern science is beginning to pay attention to the value of rest as well.
Next year’s retreat in Bali is focused on deep relaxation and restoring energy and joy. Each time I plan a retreat I look to new sources to weave together with the traditions of yoga and meditation; new inspiration to help you surrender yourself to the power of rest.
What Are the Scientists Saying?
While I busy myself planning the Yoga for the Soul Retreats journey in Nepal later this year, my thoughts turn to the idea of living a purposeful life. Because that’s the key intention of the retreat; to reignite passion and purpose.
But what does that mean? How do you know if your life is aligned with your purpose or not — and if it’s not, how do you change that?
Everyone goes through challenging times, and sometimes life doesn’t feel absolutely fabulous even if you are living authentically. But if you:
Yoga For The Soul Retreats is committed to collaborating with environmentally ethical and socially conscious businesses which do good in the world.
That means you can be sure that your retreat is supporting people who strive every single day to make a positive impact in the place they were born, live, and work.
And 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking is doing just that — in a big way! 3 Sisters is a multi-faceted business and NGO which trains and employs Nepalese women as trekking guides. This kind of work is male-dominated in Nepal (and, in fact, around the world); but 3 Sisters is working hard to change that.
Who are the 3 sisters?
The sisters are Lucky, Nicky and Dicky, who grew up in a small town in Nepal. The three of them were a solid team right from the start. Now, they thrive on working together and sharing the experiences they each gained individually earlier in their careers.
Do you catch yourself humming absent-mindedly while you’re walking round a shop, or filling in paperwork? Studies show that the sounds in our environment have a direct impact on our stress levels — so it’s no surprise that lots of us make sounds to soothe our own stress, or aid our concentration.
Bhramari Pranayama is a breathing which does exactly that. It uses the creation of sound in the throat, combined with closing off the ears to external sounds, to calm the nervous system and settle the thoughts.
How Bhramari Could Help You
The steady, bee-like humming sound you create during bhramari pranayama has an instant soothing effect on the mind. It’s an ideal practice for you if you ever feel anxious or overwhelmed because its effects are so immediate.
You can use it to calm down at any time.
As well as this wonderful, speedy anxiety relief, the benefits of bhramari include:
Ayurveda is a close sister of yoga. It’s an ancient and holistic system of medicine, developed in India thousands of years ago. It’s grounded in the simple principle of balance — because with balance comes good health.
An extensive study by two health scientists in 2016 highlighted the potential of ayurvedic knowledge to influence contemporary healthcare. They defined health from an ayurvedic viewpoint as:
“a state of equilibrium with one’s self (svasthya) but which is inextricably linked to the environment.”
Balance means adapting to changes in your environment that affect your physical and emotional wellbeing. What works for you in the heat of summer will be different from what makes you feel healthy and nourished during the winter.
Nadi Shodana is a traditional pranayama practice — a breathing technique — which promotes free and flowing movement of energy throughout the physical and subtle bodies.
The nadis are the energy channels that carry prana (our incredible life-force-energy) through and around the body all the time. There are a lot of them: around 72,000! And Shodana means ‘to cleanse’ or ‘to purify’.
So Nadi Shodana does exactly that; cleanses the energy channels to ease out any blockages or imbalances so that we can benefit from all of the energy available to us. It’s particularly effective at balancing two of the main nadis (energy channels) in the body, called Ida and Pingala.
As many of you know Nepal holds a special place in my heart, and for good reason.
It is stunningly beautiful, rich in spirituality and culture and the food is absolutely delicious!!
Oh, and did I mention that past participants have said it to be transformative, heart-opening and utterly fabulous?
For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing the spiritually rich culture of this beautiful country, read on for three reasons that make it an incredible place to deepen your practice of yoga and meditation.
Nepal’s culture is imbued with spirituality, and the two main religions that live side by side here are Hinduism and Buddhism. Both religions have important customs surrounding food — from the things that are eaten to the ways that food is prepared.
In Buddhism, food is produced and consumed with non-violence in mind; that means that most meals are vegetarian or vegan. Certain pungent foods are also avoided — including onions and garlic — as they’re said to cause emotional disturbances.
Hindus, too, abide by ahimsa (non-harming) in their culinary cosmology. Food is believed to be a gift from the divine, and to be treated with respect. From early childhood, followers of Hindu religion partake in vibrant rituals in which food is the centre point; a child’s first feeding is called annaprasana, and is celebrated as a samsara (a rite of passage).
In Hinduism, food that is worshiped brings strength and wonderful nourishment to the body.
One of the wonderfully unique things about a Yoga For The Soul Retreats journey in Nepal is that it isn’t a typical escape-from-the-world retreat. The journey begins in Kathmandu, where you can embrace the bustle and cultural richness of this vibrant town.
There’s no hiding away in Kathmandu. Life is right there in front of you at every turn.
The colourful prayer flags decorating the streets are a constant reminder that there is more to being human than meets the eye. The temples and monasteries serve to show you how inner beauty can reflect out into the physical world.
And then the journey will take you out of the city and into the mountains — because culture is not just about cities. The spiritual traditions of Nepal are as present in its rural villages as they are in its busy towns.
Recently, I shared a brief introduction to Pranayama to give you a sense of what Pranayama is and what it does.
Today, this introduction continues: in this blog post you’ll find an overview of the pranayama techniques you might learn during my classes, courses and retreats.
Over the next weeks and months this post will become an index of pranayama practices, with each technique listed below linking to another blog post that goes into close detail about that practice.
So bookmark this page, and keep checking back to learn more and more!