Health, Happiness and Hatha Yoga Course with Jacqueline Hargreaves
In this 8 week course, we will investigate how the practices of Hatha Yoga can be used to bring out the best in you! Each week will include a topical discussion followed by a practice designed specifically to produce certain effects, with the aim to establish and build upon a regular personalised practice. We will look at our constitution, current habits and lifestyle, and then discuss the repertoire of tools (such as kriyas, asana, pranayama, mudras and meditation).
What you practise is just as important as how often you practise…..
- Does your practice provide enough energy to sustain you for the rest of the day? Or do you rely on stimulants (such as refined sugar, caffeine or hot spices) to get you through the slumps?
- Does your practice leave you feeling heavy, drowsy or numb? Or over-stimulated, anxious, and unable to sleep? Or steady, calm and vital?
- Is your food digesting well and eliminating efficiently? Or do you regularly suffer bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation?
- Are there other health issues that could be addressed in your practice? body stiffness? body weakness? headaches? insomnia? allergies? asthma? chronic illness? low immunity? mood swings? mental instability? depression? fatigue? obsessive compulsive disorders?
To practice Yoga is to become aware.... aware of our connection to all things, aware of our thoughts, aware of our breath, aware of our actions and the result of our actions, aware of our relationships with other living beings, and aware of our physical body and its condition. Understanding the impact of the practice on our physical, mental and emotional body is key to becoming aware of how we create ourselves on a daily basis.
- Physical effects: body structure, growth, posture, muscle tone (strength and flexibility), balance, bone density, digestion, circulation, respiration, elimination, immunity and the nervous system.
- Mental effects: perception, proprioception, alertness, steadiness, mental activity and stability, concentration and comprehension.
- Energetic effects: sleep, nerves and adrenals, vitality, emotions/moods.
A Yoga practice has an immediate impact on the way we feel, think, breath and act. Once this is clearly recognized, Hatha Yoga can be the jewel in the crown on your path to wholistic health and happiness.
Week 1: Cleansing the Body Pure - Kriyas
Regardless of our current state of health or constitution, the cleansing practices in the Hatha Yoga repertoire may be used to start with a clean slate! Traditionally, the Kriyas were taught before Asanas, to those who suffered excessive phlegm and fat (i.e. Kapha imbalances). We will learn techniques that are particularly useful for certain sinus, throat, eye, stomach, lung and digestive tract problems. Beyond their therapeutic benefits, they build a powerful respiratory system and strong digestion. They make the body shine from within!
Week 2: Strength from within - Digestion and Elimination
In the second session, we will focus on techniques to keep the fire for our digestion strong so that we have a solid, steady resource of internal strength from which to call upon. We will revise the heating/cleansing kriyas of week 1 and then strengthen the body’s earth element using a Yin (static) practice that will leave the body feeling rejuvenated. A series of floor poses will be held in stillness to learn how the body responds to a static practice; demonstrating that an asana practice need not be 'hard and fast' to be effective in transforming the body and mind.
Week 3: Spinal Mobility and Invigoration - Dynamic Asana and Inversions
We will use a basic set of asana to move the spine in all its flexibility (forward, backward, twisting, lateral and extension) and then invigorated the spine by inverting the body. There is no doubt that inverting the body is one of the most powerful mechanisms within Yoga; the breath becomes subtle, the body, warm and soft, the mind, clear and quiet... leaving you feeling youthfully radiant!
Week 4: Balancing the Nervous System - Manipulating the Breath
Pranayama (breathing exercises) are integral to the practice Hatha Yoga. It purifies the pathways of vitality in the body and balances the breath in the left and right nostrils. To balance the nervous system in this way induces relaxation and equanimity. Over this session, we will focus on various Pranayama techniques and how they may be used for different effects.
Week 5: Befriend the Mind - Meditation
Develop your gift of seeing clearly and feeling deeply! This week will focus on the fundamental instructions for practicing Meditation - posture, breath and technique. We will investigate the applications of Meditation and its benefits.
Week 6: The Power of Calm - Relaxation
We will look closely at the principles of Relaxation and the detrimental effects of stress on health and happiness. We will look at how to induce relaxation through our environment, reduction of stimulus, and restful sleep. A Yoga Nidra (guided body scan) will be used to lead us to a final state of relaxation, here and now.
Week 7/8: The Integrated Practice - A practice that works for you!
Let’s pull it all together in an integrated practice of Hatha Yoga. In the final 2 weeks, we will draw on the material taught in the previous session to create a complete personalized practice that you will feel confident and comfortable to maintain. The aim will be to develop a practice that cleanses, rejuvenates, invigorates and balances!