Yoga Poses

Yoga Pose Of The Day: Downward-Facing Dog

English Name: Downward-Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Yoga Level: 1

Benefits: Downward-Facing dog has many benefits, it’s a great pose to energize the body, calm the brain and relieve stress and mild depression. It can improve digestion, help prevent osteoporosis, stretch the shoulders, calves, hamstrings, arches and hands. It can also help relieve symptoms of menopause, it can also relieve menstrual discomfort when the head is supported. Downward-Facing dog can also relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain, fatigue, it is therapeutic for asthmatics and can help people with high blood pressure, flat feet, sciatica and sinusitis.

How to do it: Sit on your mat on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are directly below your hips and your hands are slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms wide, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.

Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent, if this is enough for you then stop there. Downward-Facing Dog is a beginner’s pose but can be difficult for those with stiff legs. If you are ready to improve on the pose then lift the heels away from your mat. Lengthen your tail bone away from the back of your pelvis. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Once you have achieved this, exhale. Push the top of the thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them, keep a slight bend or you will overstretch the muscles in the legs. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward-Facing Dog is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose (see previous yoga of the day pose).

Yoga Vocabulary: Sun Salutation Sequence – A dynamic asana sequence, also known as Surya Namaskar means to bow to or to adore. Each sun salutation begins and ends with joined hands (Mudra) touched to the heart. The placement means that only the heart can know the truth. 

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Opinion

Lost At Sea

bird s eye view of sea water
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

I feel like I’m lost at sea and I am barely keeping my head above the water. I kick my legs to stay alive and I can see the sun on the horizon but no matter how hard I try to swim towards it, the waves take me in a different direction. Some days, I feel the warm sun on my face and I believe that I will make it, to where I want to be and other days I feel like I can no longer stay afloat.

Clear blue water, I can see everything around me, the past, the present and the future and the images blur in my mind. I try to look forward, to stay in the moment and forget the past. Why does it feel so difficult to think of it all? My legs are tired and my heart is beating quickly in my chest. What’s the point of all of this? I try and nothing happens. I want to swim straight. I know where I am going but I don’t know how to get there. The waves are taking me away from the control I thought I had. The sun is disappearing and soon it will be just me and the night sky.

When the sky is dark, my feelings are too. Everywhere I turn I see nothing but black water, it swallows me up and I feel so small and insignificant. The moon is high in the sky, it seems so far away. I know that there are people in the world struggling to survive and I should feel happy that there is breath in my body and life in my eyes but sometimes I lose that spark, I lose my light and I give into the temptation of negativity. Wouldn’t it just be easier to not care? To bob along in the waves of life and see where the wind takes me? Why can’t I be free from restrictions? Why can’t I close my eyes, picture a place and be there? The answer is simple. Life is unpredictable like the sea, the waves can pull me in various directions but as long as I keep looking at the horizon, I will be okay.

The waves carry me into morning and the light from the sun gives me hope again, I smile, all I can do is hope that the day will bring me some happiness.

Book Reviews

‘Shadowing The Sun’ By Lily Dunn Book Review

lilydunn

A gripping, dark novel about betrayal, sexuality and the loss of innocence.

Shadowing The Sun has dark beautiful prose, unusual characters and a gripping storyline. Dunn is an excellent writer and I will definitely be reading more of her work.

As an avid reader, I read a lot of books and only a few books leave a lasting impression. I often finish a book, place it back on my shelf and I then read another book, without thinking about it again. Shadowing The Sun was a rare find, after I finished the book, the story and the characters still had a lasting affect. The emotional roller coaster of Sylvie’s story gripped me and I still had a lot of unanswered questions after reading the book.

Shadowing The Sun revealed the terrible consequences of neglecting your children. I was moved by the essence of the story. It was written from the perspective of 12 year old Sylvie. An inquisitive, innocent girl who craved to be loved by her father. The point of view switches from her twelve year old self to present day and it is clear that whatever happened when she was 12 was still having a lasting effect on her present life.

Dunn achieved a perfect balance of naivety and innocence in the tone of the narrator. Sylvie was visiting her father’s commune in Italy for the summer with her brother Sam and her two friends Max and Josie. Whilst she was there her father was neglectful towards her, her father’s friend Jeet abused her trust and Sylvie learnt that things are not always what they seem.

The story showcased the shocking truths of how quickly innocence can be taken and how one summer can affect not only the present but impact the future too. Dunn also captured the feelings of being a teenager perfectly, the story was gripping and sinister at times but also had some light-hearted moments too. What I loved about this book was how Sylvie wasn’t judgemental, which is real to how children actually are.

With beautiful prose, the author created a smooth transition between the flashbacks of Sylvie’s childhood and the demons that affected her in her adult life. At the age of twelve Sylvie was caught in the shadowy space between being a girl and a woman, Sylvie was fascinated by the behaviour of her father’s colourful friends. The men were like predators, circling her, touching her, and constantly commenting on her looks. Sylvie’s vulnerability and innocence shines through very clearly because she doesn’t see that it is wrong for them to treat her this way.

Towards the end of the novel, everything is revealed and we find out that that adults in Sylvie’s life failed her when she needed them the most. They were completely unaware of the terrible things that happened that summer in Italy which explained why as an adult Sylvie found it difficult to trust and love her partner Jack.

We discover that she had chosen a career as a photographer, which is her way of taking control – ‘Now it’s me who’s behind the camera, no-one has to see me. I’m the one taking the picture now.’

Dunn crafts the crescendo of the ending brilliantly – adding in subtle clues and hints throughout the novel. This book really got under my skin and I found it a compelling read, the story and the characters have stayed with me ever since. Shadowing the Sun is a perfect choice for those who love a gripping plot.

Rating – 5/5

Poems

The Red Sea

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The cold touch of water
spreads between, my toes.
Heated wind tickling my skin.
In awe the horizon gleams with
all of its glory, to fill the sky
with such beauty, such colour,
followed by darkness.

Crimson, Sapphire, Charcoal – Black.
A cycle of endless, change.
The colours blend together like holding hands:

Far beyond my eyes, the water line edge.
Mystery prevails, my thoughts.
Islands scattered far and wide,
places to explore. Culture to devour.
Who else has stood before me?
Watching the sun, dip into the red waters?
To be replaced by a silver disc
of light and possibility?

Golden heat, beneath my feet it burns.
Never will I experience such
tranquillity and aroma.
Even the air smelt
different.

A far cry from the musty aroma of
home.This was exciting.
Warm. Spice.

Closing my eyes,
I remember
every heartbeat,
every sense.

For I will hope to return here,
one day. Another soul, will take
my steps. Watch the same sun.
Swim in the same waters. I have
to return to familiar ground.

Stories

A Sunday Afternoon

Morgennebel

I sit here, enjoying the peaceful tranquillity of the woods. Silence, almost. Only the symphony of bird song is with me here. I feel nature and it’s presence all around me: I feel liberated. I feel free. Lost in the woods with a notebook and pen and I can write about everything I see, hear, touch and feel. I no longer have to hold my breath thinking about the restrictions that are holding me back.

I am opening up to the many possibilities that my mind can create and I let myself relax into the bench I sit upon. I feel inspired. I write this, that I am repeating to you now. Just my every day thoughts. Nothing special, nothing poetic. Just what is happening here and now. I have found that I write the words I want to say better than when I wish to speak them. I don’t know why this is. No one knows I am here, this is my safe haven. Even the animals carry on with their every day adventures and I just watch them with avid curiosity. I love watching the squirrels the most, they roam free, oblivious of my existence. They pounce from branch to branch happily and the birds, well they sing a tune that brightens even my saddest day, like today.

I take everything in, clear my mind. I can hear children laughing, dogs barking and families talking in the distance and I have a sudden image flash to the front of my mind. It would be nice to come back here again someday, in the future. With my children. After being alone with my thoughts for a little while, I feel the need to explore. I start to walk through the golden leaves that lie on the ground, they crunch beneath my feet, I really love that sound. I try and release the toxins from my mind, I try to replace them with happy thoughts, I no longer want negativity to lie on my chest, I no longer want unanswered questions – I just want to feel refreshed. I focus on breathing the oxygen into my lungs, it gives me strength, it gives me fire. And so, I carry on walking.

I’ve needed this. Just me and nature – no distractions. Finally no distractions. I feel that they never help an unsolved mind. They take you away from your true self. I have found that covering up your feelings, will always lead to an unhappy heart in the end. I’m trying to unlock the place in which I store my emotions and deepest fears. I have a feeling of freedom when I am here. I wish I could just release everything I think and feel, right now, into the air that I am breathing. I’m starting to feel better after this thought and I start to feel myself smiling, a real smile.

I observe that the sky is a mixture of blues and greys and there are still no clouds in sight, but the orange is slowly starting to creep in. It’s getting a bit colder now so I start to head back onto the path that takes me home. The sun is low in the sky but it still warms my face with a glow of happiness, I put on my coat and look back and smile. A new place, a new discovery. I now feel a lift off my shoulders. I should really do this again soon. What a wonderful way to spend my Sunday afternoon.