A Zulu Prayer from South Africa
“May the rains fall on our land
and the cows grow fat.
May our children take the wisdom of our ancestors
and build upon all that is good.
May time stand still as we gaze upon the beauty
that is around us, and may the love in our hearts
envelop all those whom we touch.”
This prayer envelops the past, present and future, as we embody all these time frames within us and around us, and realise fully how we are creating each moment. Do we create our future from our past and our present moments?
If we can practice present moment awareness as much as possible, this enables the past to be the forgiven past without having a role to play in our present Beingness, and allows the future to unfold in a refreshingly new way without clinging to what has been or could have been.
How to interpret this on the yoga mat and in our daily lives?
Open heartedness? Let us use our yoga practice as a way to feel grounded and present (then we can live more fully from the present moment). Let’s invite heart opening moments in the practice, as well as using the practice to bring balance back to the body-mind-heart systems.
To educate ourselves, we will dive into the Doshas (literally translated as “deviations”):
As described in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science), Prana moves in each of us differently, depending on our life circumstances, as well as being influenced by the universal elements: air, fire, water, earth, and ether. The combinations of these elements offer various qualities: hot to cold, dry to wet, light to heavy, hard to soft, as well as functional tendencies such as grounded or floating, spaciousness or constraint. According to Ayurvedic medicine, how these elements interact creates patterns in three expressions of prana in the physical body called doshas (Stephens, 2012).
The doshas expression within us is affected by diet and lifestyle, thus making each of us unique in any given moment. Thus we can use the yoga and pranayama practice, to help enhance a balancing of these qualities within us, thus bringing about a more overall healthy balanced state.
The three main doshas are: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. One dosha tends to be dominant in each of us, however, not to become fixated about this state that you are supposedly in. We are looking for balance….
Vata - “similar to vayu, arises from the combination of air and ether, creating the subtle energy of movement in the mind and body. It governs breathing, the flow of the blood, muscle and its movement, even the movement of thoughts in the mind. In activating the nervous system, when vata is in good balance it is a source of creativity, enthusiasm, and flexibility. With excessive vata one becomes fearful, worrisome, and prone to insomnia.
Vata types - filled with air, tending toward being dry and cold, flexible when young but typically stiff and prone to arthritis later in life - benefit from exploring poses more gradually and steadily.
Pitta - arises from fire (and some air, as fire requires air), creating the heat governs digestion, absorption, metabolism, and transformation in the body and mind. Put differently, heat in the body is the product of metabolic activity, thus placing this process under pitta. In balance, pitta is a source of intelligence and understanding, helping us discriminate between wrong and right. Excessive pitta lends to hatred and anger.
Pittas tend to push hard and gravitate toward hot, vigorous practices. In cultivating balance, pittas benefit from letting go of their competitive tendencies, tapping into asana as a cooling, nurturing, and relaxing practice.
Kapha - formed from earth and water, creates the body’s physical structure - bones, muscles, tendons - and cements the body together. Kapha supplies the body with water, lubricating the joints, moisturising the skin, reinforcing the body’s resistances, helping to heal wounds and give biological strength. Associated with emotions, kapha is expressed as love, compassion, and calmness. Out of balance, it creates lethargy, attachment, and envy.
Kaphas, inclined as they are to lethargy and heaviness of movement, benefit most from a warming and flowing practice to stimulate their metabolism and circulation.
(Taken from Mark Stephans, Yoga Sequencing, 2012).
What will we be practicing on and off the mat?
For the next two months, our sequence will focus on:
Yin poses focusing on the liver/gall baller chi (detoxing and creating a more easy going attitude), lots of twisting (ringing out the organs, energising the spine, and bringing new energy in),
strong standing poses (empowering the bodies physical structure, and encouraging balance),
long-holding back bends (good for the Kapha in us),
Abdominals to ground through the Hara, and inversions to calm.
Mantra: Lokha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu…..