Where would you say happiness comes from? Are you happy? If so, where does your happiness come from? Many would say money played an important role in the creation of happiness. Although we often see images of poor children in poor countries playing happily in the streets. We also see, unfortunately too many times, wealthy children from wealthy countries unhappy, distracted by trivia and sometimes even suicidal. So we can count money out as a factor causing or creating happiness.
I’m sure it’s got more to do with the poor kids playing outside in the fresh air, concerned with genuine and worthy tasks like collecting water for the family compared to the western world’s teenager stuck in their bedroom in a closed flat, in a polluted city playing violent games on their device……..etc. Extreme scenarios, I admit, but you get the picture.
Health will also be seen as a happiness generating factor for many of you and, yes, it is hard to feel happiness while in severe pain, I understand. However, pain aside, we can see from examples such as Nick Vujicic (https://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/) with his tag line “no arms, no legs, no worries” that physical health is certainly not the overriding factor to finding true happiness.
Some would cite Love as being relevant as to where happiness comes from and to some extent I have to agree. The love of others is important as is loving others. But these are not as important as loving the self. Where does that come from? Loving the self? If you run an inner dialogue of self loathing with yourself then you clearly do not love yourself and are clearly not truly happy. Changing these negative thoughts about yourself into positive ones will help but many will say that’s easier said than done. Thoughts are, therefore, an interesting topic.
So, before we explore the subject of happiness further, I would like to discuss thoughts. After all, happiness can be subjective, right? We may think we’re happy. Or we may think we’re not happy. We may compare ourselves to others. But who can ever measure happiness anyway? How do you even know if you’re happy or not? Is there a scale of happiness? How do we know how far up the scale we are or, more importantly, how high does the scale go and how can we get to the top of it?
Thinking is important, right? We all know we have to think positively. So let’s start there. Our thoughts. Where do they come from? Where do your thoughts come from? Think about it.
Our thoughts are such a massive part of who we are (and what we create) and they are so personal to us – so where do they come from? The obvious knee jerk answer is that they come from our mind. So, where is our mind? Think about it. Where is your mind? We can lose it, we can change it, we can speak it and it can wander – but where is it? Some may say in our brains. We know where our brains are. Our brains are physical. Within our skulls. Our heads. Our craniums.
So, does a dead man (woman, human..) have a brain? Yes, of course. Does he have a mind? Does he have thoughts? I think not.
Let’s take this dead man and compare him with a live body and ask a few more questions.
How does the live body see? Through his eyes I hear you say. But the dead body also has eyes but he cannot see.
How does the live body hear? For the dead body has ears but cannot hear. He has a mouth and tongue but cannot speak.
If I asked you to raise your hand in the air and then asked you how you managed to do that, you’ll probably say with the use of your muscles and yes, you’d be partially correct but what about the dead body. He has muscles too but cannot lift his arm. He also has a heart, but cannot feel.
If I asked you where you get your energy from you’ll probably say “food” which, I guess, to a certain extent is true but the dead man has the remains of his last meal in his stomach yet he has no energy.
The dead man also has no intuition, inspiration, creativity, personality or dreams. He cannot make any decisions – negative or positive.
So what is the overriding difference between the live body and the dead body?
Physically, the only difference between the two bodies is that one is still breathing and the other one isn’t. One is inhaling and exhaling and the other one isn’t. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? Because one is still thinking, dreaming, inspiring, digesting, feeling, seeing, hearing, deciding, caring, loving……….being.
So, although the only difference between these two bodies is that one is breathing and the other one isn’t, with that breath comes all the other differences: health, ideas, thoughts, intuition, dreams, love, joy, awareness, visions, consciousness, happiness, personality and oxygen. That’s why Yoga teachers, Energy Healers, Energy Psychologists and the like call it our Life Force energy and not just breath.
If our thoughts come to us through our breath, then so do our ideas, our decisions, our intuition, our visions, our positivity and our creativity. And from these come our choices, direction and subsequent success, right? All from the breath. This is our guidance. We follow the guidance we receive with each breath. We follow the ideas and answers we get from our thoughts which come via the breath. When we want to clear our minds we go outside and breath more deeply. We go to the sea to feel healthier. We all feel better having spent time in nature and fresh air. We know all this but most of us never really acknowledge that the Native American Indians and Bob Dylan had it so sussed. “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind!” This is how our life force energy comes to us: through the energy we breath (and the energy we take in through our chakras but that’s another story!) So our energy is ultimately coming from the Universe – consciousness itself. It creates our connection with Source Energy. The Divine. The Creator. Whatever you want to call it. This is where we get our guidance. Following our guidance in the form of ideas and intuition (and for some in the form of more direct communication from their guides) leads us to being better able to creatively fulfil our life purpose. Our gifts and life purpose are usually things we feel passionate about. Using our gifts and fulfilling our life purpose, therefore, makes us feel good. It raises our vibrations. Brings us success. And makes us happy!
The Life Force Energy is also (full of) love. It is this energy of love that heals the body. It detoxifies our cells. We have seen this with Dr Masaru Emoto’s work on Water Crystals (http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html) His work shows how the energy of love and gratitude, among other positive energies, can cleanse, purify and detoxify water molecules. Let’s not forget that we are 70% water and everything is energy, right? So we can also use the energy of love, gratitude, appreciation etc to heal ourselves. The Life Force Energy is full of love. Visualising this love entering our bodies with every inhale is so simple yet so powerful. The sub conscious mind cannot differentiate between reality and imagination so if you imagine the healing, it will become your reality. After all, images in a horror film can make us scared. Images of a sexual content can make people feel sexy. So images of your life force energy healing you with love can, quite literally, heal you with love!
We also use the breath to help us meditate. Focusing on our breath helps us clear the mind, relax the body and go within where we can find any amount of peace and joy.
The breath also brings oxygen to areas that need it. It is well documented that cancer cells thrive in deoxygenated environments and they do not multiply in well oxygenated environments. Why is this? I am not a doctor and don’t claim to be. I am not qualified in conventional medicine and don’t purport to be. I’m just making the point that our breath needs our respect. More than we give it. Our breath is so much more important than we realise. Our breath brings with it our healing.
This also explains why Pranayama (Breathing Techniques) is such a major part of Yoga and one of the 8 limbs of Yoga according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Pranayama uses the breath to control the body – it’s relaxation, health, fitness, balance and ability to meditate. Powerful stuff!
Everyday we see sports people using their breath to strengthen, not only their physical bodies, but also their resolve. We see divers using the breath to maximise their diving experience. Stage performers and speakers will intuitively take a deep breath before entering the stage. Likewise, fear and panic are associated with drawing in quick, short, shallow breaths – that lack love and life force.
Ultimately, it is so simple and so easy to change so much of what we perceive as wrong in our lives. Most people think their feelings and emotions affect their breathing but we can turn this around and see that our breathing can affect our feelings and emotions. That’s a better concept, don’t you think? More empowering. It gives us more control over our feelings and emotions. We can breathe ourselves to happiness!
We should point out here too, I guess, that we, as humans, can go weeks without food, we can go days without water but we can go only a few minutes without breathing. Our breath is more than just our oxygen. And it does more than just keep us alive. As we have seen, it is our whole life and the basis for everything in it. Our breath is our Soul and, as such, it is the basis of who we are and who we want to be. Who we can be. Most importantly, our breath provides us with everything we need: our health, our guidance and our happiness.
So go on and breathe yourself to Happiness!
In my attempts to encourage people to take up Yoga, I hear so many crazy excuses as to why they (think they) can’t, from “I can’t sit on the floor” to “I haven’t got time” to “My shoulder/knee/back/foot hurts” to simply and, more honestly, “I can’t be bothered.” Well, today, I’m here to tell you that you can STILL practice Yoga despite all of the above excuses! And, of course, these 4 ways are ideal for anyone chair bound to still enjoy some benefits of Yoga.
According to the Sacred Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are 8 limbs to Yoga and the physical postures, known as “Asanas” are only one of the 8 limbs. So, I’ve picked (or adapted) some of the other 7 limbs for you to try. Can I point out too, please, that they can all be done anywhere and everywhere – so no excuses!
As Yoga is essentially a preparation for meditation, the “limbs” begin with preparing ourselves in some way and then our surroundings and then they focus on the physical body (asanas) and later moving into the breath (pranayama) and then the last few limbs relate to the different stages of meditation and connection. For any experienced Yogis out there, I apologise for the simplification I am about to provide but my aim here is to show those new to the practice how we can easily benefit from other aspects of Yoga practice.
Yama is the first limb and is broken down into 5 smaller sections, which basically relate to being a good person. So the first way is, in fact, 5 ways! The first being Ahimsa which is the practicing of non-violence. Sounds easy, eh? I’m sure you are not physically violent in nature but it also refers to our thoughts and not just our deeds – and beating yourself up with your inner talk is definitely not Ahimsa. So back to those positive affirmations about self love here – to help you avoid any negative thoughts about yourself or others.
Other Yamas include Satya which is about being honest with yourself and others and Asteya which translates as non-stealing. When we think of stealing we easily relate the word to possessions and money but it can mean so much more than that. Bullies steal the confidence and self esteem of their victims, chronic complainers steal energy from their listeners, manipulators take what is not readily given to them.
If you take something which is not willingly given to you, then you are not practicing Asteya.
Brahmacharya is usually translated as continence meaning to “hold in” and relates to conserving your energy (in all its forms) and only directing it where it is needed to go. It includes self-control and also not wasting time and effort. The last Yama is Aparigraha which translates as non-covetness and relates to not being greedy and taking only what you need at that time.
On reflection, to fully live by these Yamas is not as easy as it initially sounds but just making progress in these 5 areas of life can make a huge difference to our health and happiness. After all, it’s all about the energy – and everything is energy, right?
This is the second limb of Yoga and also breaks down into 5 sections but, don’t worry, we’re not going to go through all of them. I am only focusing on the areas of Yoga you can practice when it’s too hot to do anything else or you are feeling too lazy to do anything else! So I am just picking the fourth Niyama today which is Svadhyaya. Svadhyaya refers to studying scriptures and self study but can be related to everyday life as reading/listening to inspiring words and writing some sort of journal or gratitude list. There’s plenty on the internet these days to inspire us so just set the intention to be inspired and start surfing!
Writing freely is also a great way to release “stuff” and gratitude lists are an excellent way to help us see what we have and what we desire and basically where we’re at (self-study). Reading back over these journals is a great way to acknowledge your progress especially on those days when you need a little extra encouragement.
This is the breathing limb! Prana is often translated simply as “breath” but it is SO much more than that so I prefer to use the term “life force energy”. The word yama translates as control or technique so together pranayama relates to the control and techniques used in breathing in the life force energy. There are so many different techniques to help us focus on inhaling prana (breathing) but, don’t worry, I’ll just include my favourites here.
This is the deep breath, often accompanied by a raspy sound from the back of the throat, which concentrates on taking the breath all the way down to the belly and allowing the belly to comfortably expand with the inhale and relax with the exhale.
Most people when taking a deep breath sub consciously hold their bellies in and extend their chests. Try it and see if you do the same. This subconscious act deprives the lower abdomen of receiving its full quota of vital life force energy. By allowing the breath to come all the way down and by not worrying about the belly expanding as far as it naturally wants to you can really nourish this lower abdominal area (sacral chakra). This is particularly healing for any digestive or gynaecological problems. Try it and see – let me know how you get on with it.
This is one of my favourites and works with balancing the right and left sides of the body by balancing the prana flow through the right and then left nostrils in turn. Block one nostril and inhale slowly (allowing the belly to expand), hold for a second or two, and then block that nostril, unblock the other nostril and exhale slowly. Inhale again through the same nostril that you just exhaled from and hold for a second or two before exhaling out of the other nostril. Repeat for as long as is comfortable for you.
This balances our feminine and masculine energies, our ida and pingala, our yin and yang – whatever language you prefer! By the way, this practice is excellent for easing menstrual and menopausal symptoms!
This technique takes some practice but is so worth it. We focus on our exhale and almost force the breath out using our abdominal muscles to ensure we have exhaled completely. Allow the inhalation to happen naturally before focusing on the next exhale. With practice you can get faster with this breathing pattern and it’s super energising!
As stated earlier, the last 4 “limbs” of Yoga all relate to Meditation or the preparation of meditation. Pratyahara refers to the withdrawal of our senses as we begin to focus within. This is the aspect of Yoga that allows monks to meditate for days on end without moving, eating or drinking. It focuses on detaching from the physical body and therefore the physical senses. Needless to say it would take a life time or two to master this one.
On our Yoga teacher training course, we practiced Yoga a few times in the park with an army of flies that were determined to distract us – they gave us the perfect opportunity to practice our pratyahara. The deeper into meditation we went the less these flies could bother us!
Dharana refers to the concentraion stage of the process and Dhyana is the actual meditation before you get to Samadhi which Google translates as “a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation. In yoga this is regarded as the final stage, at which union with the divine is reached (before or at death).” This is where most of us struggle with our Yoga practice so let’s bring it back to a level we can all relate to.
For those of you who read my first book Heal yourself to Happiness, you will know I dedicated a whole section to the topic of meditation. Meditation simplified, in my opinion, just means putting your conscious mind to one side for a while and letting the subconscious come to the fore. We do this naturally without thinking so many times during the day yet we don’t realise this is the beginning of meditating.
Do you ever “drift off” in thought while driving a familiar route alone? Or while doing the dishes? It’s like day dreaming. That moment just before you fall asleep or that moment you awaken. We often experience this relaxation of the conscious mind during exercise, painting, doing crafts, puzzles, gardening, cooking……….in fact, usually when we’re doing something we love that we find relaxing. That is the feeling we want to create which is why it’s so important to spend time relaxing and doing the things you love.
If you can nurture this feeling and deepen it then you’re well on your way to meditating. This is when you get all your bright ideas, creativity, inspiration, intuition and guidance for this is when your spirit guides can communicate with you more clearly. This is why meditating is so healing because it gives you the answers you need through your own intuition. Your own inner guidance system. Perfect!
So there you have it. Four ways you can practice Yoga without even getting up! Let me know how you get on.
Love and Blessings
I am often telling my Yoga students and people in general (anyone that will listen really!) that regular Yoga practice creates progress in your life OFF the mat as much as it improves your practice ON the mat. People who already practice Yoga regularly know this fact, even if they can’t explain it. And those who can explain it will probably give you a load of scientific information about the biological and physiological benefits of the different postures and other aspects of the practice. These, of course, are truths not to be ignored and here is the link to an excellent short video about The Science of Yoga which, in my opinion, is a must watch for anyone practicing or thinking about taking up Yoga.
However, we are not all scientifically minded. I am not. I view Yoga as a form of Energy Healing because, quite frankly, it is! Everything is energy so anything that helps you heal must be energy healing of a sort. But Yoga is energy healing in every sense of the word. As an Energy Healer I work very much with the release of negative trapped emotions, limiting subconscious beliefs and releasing blocks and restrictions at Soul level and I really want to explain how all this can be achieved through Yoga.
One of the many reasons I love Yoga so much is because, from my Energy Healing perspective, it really is the icing on the cake.
I use The Emotion Code and The Body Code for emotional healing, PSYCH K and The Body Code for mental belief healing and Soul Realignment for Soul level healing (with lots of overlapping and intuition!). I now see Yoga as an umbrella that embodies them all.
So, getting to the point, how does Yoga improve your life off the mat?
When you practice Yoga, you are stretching each body part to its limit. It’s important to go to your limit – no further, no less – to your body’s natural limit. Where your body naturally says “stop”. If you go further than this your body won’t thank you and if you go less than this you will take longer to transform to a new place and a new you. If you go to your natural limit regularly, it’s like a gentle tapping on your limit. As you hold each pose use the breath to inhale love and healing and exhale tension and stiffness and with each breath your body will naturally move a little further into the pose. Sometimes slowly and sometimes more quickly your limit will move and your body gently and naturally wants to go that little bit further enabling you to deepen the pose and experience something new. This is when we transform the most.
Time for a little side note here on visualisation. Visualisation is the most powerful (and easy) self healing tool we have in our power. By constantly visualising tension, negative emotions, other negative energy and limitations actively releasing from our bodies on our exhale while visualising the healing love, light and vitality of our life force energy entering our bodies – through the crown chakra, heart chakra, root chakra, with our breath and through every pore – we can totally maximise the healing benefits of our Yoga practice.
Our subconscious cannot differentiate between reality and our imagination. If you watch a horror film, you will still feel the fear and anxiety even though you know it’s not real and when you see someone being hit and hurt you can feel it in your own energy, right? In the same way, whatever you choose to run through your own mind will have an effect on your own system. Choose to imagine powerfully healing scenarios and they will be just that, powerfully healing. But back to the topic in hand…………………how does regular Yoga practice help you transform your life OFF the Yoga mat?
What is actually limiting your body when you practice Yoga? You will, no doubt, say your inflexibility and, of course, you’re right but it’s more than that. It’s actually our trapped emotions and inflexible negative beliefs that cause this limitation. Yes – even the physical limitation of the body during Yoga is caused by your trapped emotions and inflexible negative beliefs.
Let me explain what I mean by a “trapped emotion” for those of you who have not come across this term before. A trapped emotion is basically a ball of energy (everything is energy including our emotions/thoughts/beliefs) that, having not been processed completely, gets lodged in our body somewhere and causes a blockage to the natural healing life force energy that is constantly flowing through us.
When we feel a negative emotion such as fear, panic, heartache, grief, anger, anxiety, jealousy, shock, rejection, guilt etc we often don’t process the feeling and the energy of the emotion doesn’t pass through our energy field. There are many reasons why we may not process the energy of the emotion at the time. Usually we just don’t want to feel it so we suppress the feeling. Shock and grief can make us “go numb” and also sometimes because the western culture is one of holding emotions in. Compare a European funeral with one from the middle east where you will see mothers openly and loudly expressing the energy of the emotion they are feeling. Sometimes we don’t want to admit we are feeling a particular emotion such as jealousy or we may have been brought up to believe that crying isn’t good. Whatever the reason, we all trap negative emotions within our bodies. They can be caused by major traumatic events in our lives or just by simple comments by others or lost toys even. They can often lodge in organs and parts of the body relevant to the emotion, for example, fear in the kidneys, anger in the liver, sorrow in the lungs and so on.
For more information about trapped emotions you can read my whole article on the topic here on the Blog page of my website.
Negative beliefs come from the subconscious programming that we have received at certain stages of our lives primarily in our early childhood. Often parents and teachers have no idea how easily and readily a young mind will take on a belief especially when it’s about themselves. It is very common, and I see it every day in my line of work, for people to have beliefs of low self worth due to criticism in their early years. Our views on money, relationships, love, security and, as I said before, self worth, all come from the early programming we received as infants. Unless, of course, we have taken measures to look into this and change such limiting beliefs.
You may well wonder how this causes us limitations in our Yoga practice but you need to keep in mind (always!) that everything is energy, including our thoughts and beliefs. And we are energy – our energy field and our so called physical bodies are just energy vibrating at differing frequencies. The negative, unhealthy energy vibrating at lower frequencies and the positive, healthy energy vibrating at higher frequencies. All this energy is either flowing around or lodged and stuck in our bodies. I have already mentioned that trapped emotions get stuck and block organs and other parts of the body that relate to them but beliefs can too. For example, fears about the future and fears about finances can cause blockages in the lymphatic system. Perceived burdens in our lives tend to locate themselves energetically on and in our shoulders. I could go on but you get the gist. To learn more about this particular topic of where our emotions and beliefs manifest in our bodies check out the end of Louise Hay’s classic book You Can Heal your Life here.
For more information on changing limiting beliefs you can read the article on my Blog page below about PSYCH K.
So now you can see what exactly is limiting your body when you practice Yoga – it may feel like your muscles are what is causing you to stop your stretch and, of course, this is true to a certain extent but, energetically, it is so much more than that.
You have also seen now how gentle and regular “nudging” at your limit, using your breath to deepen each pose whilst remaining relaxed is one of the ways to release such limitation by releasing the energy that is lodged there. This process happens very naturally in Yoga. You may not have even been aware of it. Have you ever just felt like crying during your Yoga practice? Without really knowing why? Have you found that random feelings and memories come to you during your Yoga practice that you can’t account for? Well, now you know. It is the thoughts and events that caused the emotional blockage or belief running through your energy field and subconscious mind as they are being released. Tears are always a good indication that emotional release is going on so never stop them. Acknowledge them. Give thanks for them. Let them go. Give blessings for the natural energetic cleansing that you are receiving.
A side note here too on the possible effects of such energy releasing. The first one being tears of absolute joy! Warning: Yoga practice can cause absolute joy! That high feeling you get during and after a Yoga session is clearly evidence of your greater connection to Source energy. The great ideas that pop into your head during and after a session of Yoga is further evidence of the life force energy doing its thing. Yoga practice, by releasing energy blocks, increases this channel with Source, and gives you greater creativity, health, clarity, intuition, love, light, purpose, meaning, do I need to continue?
However, there can also be perceived negative effects of this energy release in the form of various illnesses and pain. If you again think energetically, it’s all very logical. As the energy of these emotions release from your body you can feel them. You may experience vivid dreams and recall certain memories as these emotions fully release from your energy field. When I studied for my Holistic Diploma, we called this effect a healing crisis. In The Emotion Code world we refer to it as a period of processing. At Soul level, we refer to such releases as shifting.
Personally, I prefer the word processing. These trapped emotions have been stuck in our bodies because we didn’t, for whatever reason, fully process them at the time we originally felt them. So, in my opinion, it’s really important to acknowledge these feelings and actively visualise and nurture their release from your body so you don’t inadvertently, suppress them again. Your attitude at this time can make all the difference between healing and transforming somewhere exciting and new or remaining stuck.
Taking pain killers only silences the message your body is trying to give you. In extreme cases, you may need them to help you function or sleep but the truth is, you don’t want to ignore this pain. You want to understand it. Acknowledge it and release the underlying cause of it.
You may not immediately connect the illness or pain you are feeling with this emotional release. What illness or pain you experience will depend on the location of the block being released and the nature of the belief being released. The emotions you feel while processing will also depend on the emotions being released. This is why I have to warn clients that symptoms can often worsen before they improve. So if you feel unusually grumpy, sad or angry be aware that you may have released this from your body during Yoga and embrace the new you that is emerging!
As I said, your attitude here is crucial for healing. If you complain and curse your body and the pain you are experiencing, you are just sending greater negativity towards your body. Illness and pain is simply your body’s way of telling you it has something to release. By being grateful for this and embracing the opportunity to release and grow and by sending love to your body and its parts you will find greater, and quicker, healing. Food for thought for the next time you are sick, eh?
Here is a link to an article I wrote about pain being your friend last year after experiencing awful back ache.
Here is the Abraham Hicks link which is included in the article which provided me with the necessary Ah ha! moment on this topic.
and another one which you may find interesting.
One of the ways to really know that your illness was actually caused by your Yoga practice is by seeing how far you can go the next time you practice Yoga.
During my bad back episode, I was concerned that so long without practicing Yoga would result in my being stiff and unfit. I was concerned that my practice and my reach would go backwards, however, completely the opposite occurred. Despite not practicing for a couple of weeks, when I did, I found my body naturally went even further than ever before. I found myself doing poses I’d never been able to do before. I felt stronger, more flexible and more balanced – and needless to say, more joy! The more flexible you are on the mat the more flexible your thinking will be off the mat. The more balanced you are on the mat, the more balanced you will feel in life in general. So now, when I don’t feel 100%, I retreat, love myself a little bit more and look forward to the spiritual growth that is coming my way.
Remember, arrows can only be shot forward after being pulled back first. Next time you feel poorly or that life is dragging you backwards, just think how far you’re going to fly!
Releasing low vibrating negative energy from your body causes the overall frequency of your body’s vibrations to rise. This is key. It is this rise in our vibrations that is causing our life to improve off the mat. By the Law of Attraction, we will attract “like” energy into our field. The more positive our vibrations, the more positive energy will come to us. This can be in the form of people, experiences, food preferences, opportunities, thoughts, beliefs, intuition, creativity, love, romantic partners – shall I continue?
This is how your progress ON the Yoga mat, creates progress, and spiritual growth, in your life OFF the Yoga mat.
(from an energetic point of view!)
With love, light and blessings,