How to Become a Spiritual Warrior

As a follow up to my previous Blog Post ‘The Spiritual Warrior’, I would now like to show you how to set yourself in motion along the Path.

Firstly you will need a clean space, free from disturbance and with a good ambience. I suggest you pick a time in the morning just after rising and having cleansed your body. Evening times may also work if you are not too tired after the days work.
Sit crossed legged on a suitably padded but firm cushion on the floor. Place the right hand on top of the left with the thumbs lightly touching each other forming an oval resting on the thighs just below the level of the navel, or just simply rest them on the thighs.
Keep an erect spine as if pushing the crown of the head towards the sky.
Rest the tongue up against the roof of the pallet and just behind the top teeth.
Relax the belly.
You can keep the eyes slightly open and in a soft focus neither trying to see through the eyes or allowing them to become bleary.
Allow yourself to sit for a few minutes in order to allow your mind to settle down.
Then bring your attention to the Crown of your head, pause for 2 minutes, then down to the Throat, again pause, and finally to the Heart Centre, located at the center of the chest behind the breast bone. Here you can hold your attention for 10 to 20 minutes.
If the mind wanders away from the object of concentration, the Heart Centre, then simply notice and bring it back to the Heart.
Keep the breathing completely natural.

During this sitting period try not to fidget or move unnecessarily.

Before you begin and when you finish your practice, place your two hands together at your Heart, and bow whilst at your seat, to the Divinity within all beings.

By bringing your attention back again and again to the object of concentration, you develop a strong Mindfulness which remembers it’s object of concentration.

The Mind will eventually come to enjoy the euphoric experience of being still in this heightened state of awareness. The first steps on the road to becoming a real life Spiritual Warrior whose opponent is one’s own miss-conceptions and negativity.

Enjoy,

Granville x

The Spiritual Warrior

We hear so much about meditation and what are it’s benefits. There are also so many different types of meditation that it can be quite a daunting task how to know what is going to really work for us and also to which we are able to commit our selves. Some kinds of practice focus on ‘Just Sitting’ and this is done in the midst of our mental and physical environment. This kind of meditation is often very miss-understood as sitting still in a thoughtlessness. The mind is responsible for thoughts and so this kind of practice can result in the suppression of thought which is not what this kind of ‘Just Sitting‘ practice is all about.

There is another kind of meditation which is based on ‘Contemplation‘. Here we bring to mind certain topics geared towards understanding certain spiritual concepts. Before we undertake this king of practice however we need to have a good background of study and a relatively quiet and concentrated mind. With these abilities then this kind of contemplative approach can be very effective in allowing us to organize our thoughts and develop our motivation in life. Even if we are doing worldly tasks like say arranging a day trip to the sea side, we need to contemplate, make the correct preparations and action these  in order for our trip to go as planned without unnecessary problems. So in our spiritual lives we can make similar preparations and after careful consideration, hold our intention and then act on our resolution. These steps are quite familiar but sometimes we do not relate this natural method in the context of spiritual training.

A very important factor here which makes the whole process Work is to have a Strong Mind. And this is really the fuel that drives the practice forward. This Strong Mind needs to be developed and made strong by following along with our resolutions and keeping a regular commitment to practice regularly. By achieving small goals these successes build a strength for the bigger achievements.

Practice on a daily basis and keep a clear mind on your commitments. This is the way of the Warrior – the Spiritual Warrior.

Easter in Jamaica 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to an exotic location and enjoying your most favourite activity? Well you can do that and much more on my yoga holiday at Negril Yoga Centre in Jamaica.
www.negrilyoga.com

I will be teaching over a period of 2 weeks a guided meditation and an in depth journey into yogAsana and it’s relationship to spiritual awakening and self understanding.

We will be practicing 2 sessions a day both including guided meditation and asana – the morning session more vigorous and the evening a more quieting session.

Dates: Saturday 7th – Saturday 21st April 2012.
Cost: £195 for 1 week and £350 for 2 weeks

Travel from the UK:
Flights are direct from London Gatwick to Montego Bay with Virgin Atlantic.

Check out this holiday on my Website: Easter in Jamaica 2012

Peace and Love,
Granville x

yogAsana in the HEAT

Tony Wilmot adjustingHi Yogis and Yoginis,

Thank you for attending our first yogAsana in the HEAT workshop at yoga haven yesterday on Saturday 21st January 2012. Tony and myself are very pleased with the response and feedback to this our first workshop of this kind. I especially liked meeting new yoga practitioners and presenting yogAsana to this new audience. Tony has a lovely voice for chanting. I hope he keeps it for the yoga and is not tempted to diverge into the commercial market. What a lovely experience to chant Mantra together, to still the mind and then to enjoy a lovely sequence of yoga postures in that perfectly heated room.

Please feel free to comment on any part of the session that you felt had special value for you or you would like us to elaborate on in our future workshops at yoga haven.

Namaste,

Tony and Granville X

Tribute to Local Yoga Teacher Mathew Godebski

Mathew Godebski Yoga TeacherHi Yogis and Yoginis, we recently lost local yoga teacher Mathew Godebski after his fight with an ongoing illness. I visited Mathew during his time in hospital and he was very positive about recovering from his illness and very keen on getting back to the helm of his flourishing yoga studio in Chorlton, Manchester. He relayed to me the medical tests he had undergone and his then recent operation. I had not seen Mathew for a few years and I was very pleased to have visited him at this time. What came to me when I met him was his concern for his health in the concept of him being able to continue with his passion in life – his yoga practice and yoga studio. It is amazing how purpose is such a motivator in life, and what struck me with Mathew was his motivation for getting better, his will to carry on with his work and for his yoga community.

I suppose there are many points that could go through our minds if we were faced with an unexpected and foreshortened lifespan. As with Mathew his concerns were more for those who he contacted through his passion and work – his yoga friends. What more can we ask of our life if not the wish to be of benefit to others through our own understanding of the mysteries of life and life’s twists and turns?

This feeling of Mathew’s concerns for others was again reflected at the church on the day of Mathew’s funeral on Friday morning last week. Listening to the accounts of Mathew’s life read out in the church,  gave me a much more fuller view of the Mathew Godebski I had no idea of. His involvement with hikeing groups during his University years and the friends he made during those years. He left us a colourful impression of his exploits and the manner of how he dealt with adversity in his life.

The feelings of those who knew him and the genuine loss we felt at Mathew’s passing was very well shared between us all on that Friday morning at St. Ninian’s Church in Chorlton. But most of all I think it is more beneficial to celebrate the passing of Mathew, and be thankful that his time in this life was employed in such a fruitful pursuit. Perhaps we should reflect on this and rejoice in the merit generated by by him.

R.I.P. Mathew, and very best wishes follow as you continue to journey on and learn to understand the purpose of life…… May the longtime sunshine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on………

Peace and Love to you all,

Granville x

Is Warming up a Benefit before Yoga Practice?

Garbha Pindasana TurkeyThis question was posed to me by a very keen yoga student of mine. I’m sure it’s something that we are all familiar with, and is well worth some serious consideration. With the increasing popularity of ‘Heat Generating’ yoga styles, there is a remarkable shift towards introducing the heat element through various methods. So why is this? Well anyone who has trained in athletics will know that it is important to warm the body before undertaking the physical demands of a sport, and the consequences of avoiding to do this can be tremendous. The result being, grave injury to those parts of the body put under massive effort if not properly prepared before hand. This all makes total sense.

Now in yoga we have two major approaches. One being static yoga practice and the other being dynamic or flowing yoga practices. Which is better or more beneficial? The way I look at this is from the standpoint of having experience of both approaches. And it very much depends on the mind-set of the person practicing that particular form of yoga. If we practice the static poses or asanas and push for our maximum most expanded posture too soon into our practice session, we can expect to injure ourselves. Cold or cool muscle tissue is not really ready for big work loads and so we need to begin in a more gentle way and work towards our ‘edge’ in a mindful way and gradually increase our effort as we feel the body able to release more as our session progresses.

It’s a bit like, do you need to warm up before you sit down? Do you need to warm up before you climb the stairs to bed? Do you need to warm up before you wash the car? etc. etc….. Well you would most likely answer ‘No’ to these questions. So then if we apply the same reasoning to our yoga practice, do you need to warm up before your yoga practice then I would also answer not necessarily if we view our practice as keeping within our familiar boundaries. So how do we gain more flexibility then if we don’t ‘push’ ourselves? Well by doing the same things on a regular basis we become familiar with the exercise, our body can cope with the expectations put on it and over time yields to our efforts without resistance because of our persistent effort.

Of course we want to avoid doing our yoga practice in cold places particularly if there is wind or drafts, because as the bodily joints open it’s very important to keep cold from entering into them, so being in a warm environment is I would say pretty essential.

Now with the more dynamic forms of yoga, the heat is generated either by movement or by breathing practices. Now in these cases the body responds in a totally different way. Because we require the body to exhibit more flowing kinds of movements as in ‘Vinyasa’, then it’s pretty much essential to be generating heat to do these particular forms. Like you wouldn’t want to rev the engine of your car when you’ve just turned on the ignition would you?? And for those who have had experience of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga then you will know how efficient the body can move when Ujiayi Breathing is undertaken.

But in Yin Yoga because the postures are not performed in a dynamic way then its not so important to have to same degree of heat in the body. In fact if you are too warm when you begin your session you may very well cool down too much and then start to feel a locking up of your body. In Yin Yoga, it’s much better to keep the temperature consistent so you do not go through this cooling effect. Simply keep within your ‘edge’ and remain mindful.

In yogAsana we use both approaches. The stillness at the beginning of a yogAsana session is characterized with still asanas and the releasing of the body into the postures. When we move into the mid-session of the practice then the body will have accumulated sufficient heat through the flow of prana or chi flow through the meridians or energy channels.

So which ever way you approach your practice session remember to be mindful and different approaches will be utilized at different stages of your progression. Be flexible in your approach to practice and remember one size of shoe doesn’t fit every foot…

Join Tony and myself for yogAsana in the HEAT in January. You’ll see what I mean…….

Peace and Love,

Granville x

yogAsana in the HEAT

Tony Wilmot adjustingHave you ever wondered what it would be like to practice yoga in a properly heated yoga studio? To experience the benefits of being able to concentrate fully on your yoga instead of the distraction of feeling uncomfortable below your working temperature? Well now is your chance because I have hired a ‘Hot Yoga Studio’ for 2 1/2 hours of Mantra, Pranayama and yogAsana. Now this is fabulous. We all know the benefits of being able to get down to business in a proper purpose built environment, so this is just that opportunity.

When we begin to go deeply into yoga postures, especially with the strong influence of the Yin Yoga element in yogAsana, then you can imagine the meltdown of tension and penetration around the joints and muscles under these conditions. The detoxing effects of sweating freely during the practice are considerable.

Together with fellow Yoga teacher Tony Wilmot, we have put together a program of Mantra, Pranayama and yogAsana for you to experience. Tony is a seasoned Ashtanga and Hatha yoga teacher and British Wheel of Yoga representative in the Birmingham area.

The venue is yogahaven Birmingham – and the date is Saturday 21st January 2012. The time is from 12:30 – 15:00.
A new experience for the New Year.
The cost of this Workshop is £30.

To book your place send your cheque made payable to “Yoga with Granville”  address: Higher Pot Oven Farm, Brown Wardle, Whitworth, Near Rochdale, Lancashire, OL12 8WU, England

You are freely invited to join us for lunch in one of the local restaurants after the practice.

To view flyer click yogAsana in the Heat 2012

Keep in touch for more articles in my Blog.

Peace and Love,
Granville x

Irina Hammond

Nutritional Therapist and NaturapathMy name is Irina. I am a qualified naturopath-nutritional therapist.
I would like to introduce nutrition and why it is so important to us.
Nutritional therapy can help alleviate a wide range of conditions and assist in the recovery from  ill-health and recognises each person as an individual who has unique dietary and nutritional requirements.
It is best to benefit from Nutritional Medicine by getting professional advice from a Nutritional Therapist.
The nutritional programme is ideal for anyone looking to lose weight, get fit, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, boosting immunity, stress management,  people wanting to reduce their cholesterol, guidance on how to implement good eating habits.  It is also great for sports people who train regularly and want to tone or build muscle.
Eating a balanced diet is a key to sports nutrition. The right combination of fuel (calories) from carbohydrates, proteins and fats gives you energy for top performance
Nutrition is an influential factor when it comes to health.
Nutritional therapy can greatly help to achieve these objectives and if this is what you are looking for can put you on the right track towards wellbeing and good health!
For more information you can Google: www.nirvana-natural-health.com

What exactly are these ‘Openings’ in yoga asana?

yoga class at Sultan Palas Dalyan Have you ever been involved in your practice of asana and you’ve felt some release or click happening in your body? Or maybe you’ve heard of someone else expressing these sensations. Well what exactly are they? It’s very normal through our yoga practice that as we begin to release our body through stretching and better ways of achieving a relaxedness in our practice that at times we notice these releases that often feel liberating a if we’ve become free of something that has been weighing us down for some time – had some kind of revelation or insight that gives us another way of seeing ourselves in relation to the great scheme of things – these can be called Openings and are very rewarding, natural and expected.

However there are other kinds of openings that although leave us more knowledgeable, can have a serious debilitating effect on our physical and mental well-being. Ultimately these are not to be sought after and very often stay with us throughout our lives and severely handicap our ability to perform asana in the future. These are usually injuries that occur because of our lack of caution or at the hands of some teachers who take their students beyond their actual capabilities not purposefully, but because of a lack of sensitivity to the students limitations. Openings, or injuries, as I prefer to call them are rife within the world of sport and no exception in the world of yoga as well. In our eagerness to excel and ‘do our best’, we often exceed our safety limits and hurt ourselves.

But how do we go on then in our yoga sadhana and practice within a known parameters of safety. Well quite frankly we cannot do that. I’d like to say otherwise but I cannot. The very nature of practice is that we are moving into unchartered territory, ‘to boldly go where we have never been before’, and so we just don’t really know what the consequences will be or to expect. Particularly when working deeply on postures that take us into specific joint work. I spend quite a bit of my time talking with students who have injuries and recommending modifications to reconstruct their asana practice. And this is one of the reasons I wanted to share this post and to re-evaluate the way we address our sadhana and to bring to mind that yoga is a form of Therapeutic Practice and not for the platform of Circus theatricals.

Let’s keep our intention in mind and let us not be diverted onto the performance roundabout. Let’s face it, if you really want to see extremes of body mobility then just take a look at what contortionists can do. Mind boggling, at least it is for me anyway. Well personally, I have no ambitions to become a contortionist but I do appreciate their gifted abilities. Yoga is not about that. Yoga is about bringing ourselves into harmony, and as Mr. Iyengar himself even remarked in class one day, that the uninitiated ‘would think of him as some kind of a contortionist’, and that is clearly what he is not.

Remember Ahimsa or non-violence towards ourselves and others. If we can use this as our measure, then we can transform our attitude to a safer and more fulfilling way of self awakening. And this attitude of Ahimsa is the true purpose behind a vegetarian approach to eating and lifestyle. To respect all sentient Beings and to remember their right to life just as we expect others to have respect for our right to life.

Happy practice,

Peace and Love x

Granville

Full Circle by Joanna Najduch

Joanna leg stretchJoanna Najduch takes time out with Granville Cousins an inspiring  Yoga Teacher whose practice has indeed come……………

FULL CIRCLE

Yogis and Yoginis in the Manchester area have long thought themselves fortunate to have a yoga teacher like Granville Cousins in their midst.

An imposing six feet tall, born and bred in Manchester of West Indian descent, Granville cuts a formidable figure by any standards. Add to this his foundtion in martial arts, his Iyengar yoga training, together with over 20 yers experience teaching Astanga Yoga, and you just might begin to believe that us northerners are indeed on the something?

Click on this link to read more Full-Cirle-Joanna-Najduch

Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah