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Massage in Your Yoga Class

Massage in Your Yoga Class

​It is windy. It is hot. I feel out of sorts. My children feel out of sorts. Every person I come into contact with tell me they feel a little 'off centre'. So I am about to teach a yoga class. Inspired by my knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda I try something a little different. I bring my Ayurvedic oils to my yoga class. I cannot ignore what is around me, in the wind, in the air. I cannot ignore what people are telling me. There is so much movement around all of us how on earth are my yoga students going to stay present? The whole purpose of me teaching yoga is to help my students let go of the day and move into the present and perhaps even find a little space in the chatter of the mind. We begin with joint rotations. My students choose what position they would like to be in. If they are completely out of balance I suggest they lie down. Sitting is next and the hardest position is standing. So those who need a little more 'work' feel like they get a little 'workout'. Standing on one leg while rotating joints is quite hard. Try it. The joint rotations help us to bring a focal point to the mind. We concentrate only on the area of the body we are moving. We may even 'breathe' into that area. We also warm up the joints and provide lubrication. Why do this on a hot and windy day? It provides moistness. It counteracts the qualities of dryness that are already present in our environment. Next we work on poses that help to 'squeeze' or 'massage' the internal organs. This can also help to flush out what is being held in the body and send it out of the body. Almost like a mini-detox session. The limbs of the body come next. I invited the students to give themselves a 'massage'. We were all fully clothed. Through our clothes we massaged out legs. Knead with your fingers, roll the muscle over the bone, dry brush over the body in firm, long, slow strokes. Make it your own. Be aware of how focused you are. The sensation of touch. The speed of your strokes. Yoga is about awareness. Being in the present. Finding some space in the thoughts that roll in the mind. How to enhance this experience - use the Ayurveda oils. Smell the oils. Which oils 'speaks' to you. Use that oil to massage your face. Massage your fingers. Have your socks nearby and massage your feet. Lie in shavasana and really surrender. Going a little deeper.......... So why use massage and why bother with the oils? Within us and around us there are five elements, space, air, fire, water and earth. We all have these elements within us, but to different degrees. The challenge is to be in touch with the balance of the elements within ourselves. So asking your yoga students to consider how they are going to practice- eg standing up or lying down - helps to increase their awareness of the elements and start to think about how these elements play out in them individually. You can share the theory or just let the practice happen. You will know when the time is right to provide more education to your students. The elements predominant in the environment before teaching the yoga class were air and fire. It was hot. Air is changeable and really windy days can really through off our centre of balance. Picture washing on a clothes line out in a backyard on a hot, windy day. The clothes go in one direction, then another. They dry so quickly as the moisture is removed from the heat of the sun. The result, dry washing. Apply this to ourselves. We become dry and a little strung out. Look at your arms the next time you are out in the wind. It is probably dry and a little rough. You may feel a little invigorated but very soon quite exhausted. We want to balance this heat and air. So we apply moisture. We work on bringing in the elements of earth and water to help bring some stability - to ground. We do this through the joint rotations, through the physical application of oil to the body. We ask the students to use awareness. Be aware not only within the class but also afterwards. How does the class make you feel physically, emotionally, even spiritually? Just maybe they decide to do a little massage every day until the next yoga class. And we have subtly taught our students both Yoga and Ayurveda through massage, with the added bonus of introducing Dinacharya simply by being aware of what is in the environment right now, the qualities of dryness and heat with wind and designing a yoga class to bring a little balance.

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