Tag Archives: Manchester

Happy Spontaneous Me!

This week we hosted our Yoga In Action workshop, Happy Spontaneous Me! in collaboration with Chorlrton Arts Festival.

This is real YOGA. Otherwise know as the Yoga of Action.

It’s like an active meditation. Where we merge being and doing into one. We use simple techniques such as repetitive and flowing mark making as a way of connection moment to moment with what we are doing. We use this as ‘flow’ producing activity that everyone can do.

Its fun. But it’s also a serious practice. In many ways this is advanced yoga!

Don’t worry though… This is yoga practice off the mat and into the realm of everybody lives. It teaches you to take notice, observe and be in harmony with what ever you are doing. Sometimes called the science of autotelic experience, or ‘flow’ is when we fully direct and our consciousness into and with whatever we are doing purely for its own sake.

The experience is spontaneous happiness and joy. In yoga science Happy Spontaneous Me points to a deeper form of yoga practice called Karma Yoga or the yoga of action. This is essential and fundamental practice is where we change of mode of thought from trying to exert force over what we do towards a desired result to aligning out action to our inner harmony and intuition.

Most people confine themselves to never ending treadmill of expectation, desires, and rewards. It causes frustration, anger, jealousy and unhappiness. But its possible to step off the treadmill, still be in the world but free once we learn know where real happiness and creative contentment is.

But I am not creative…I cant draw. Oh yes you can.

Everyone can, that’s the whole point. The fact is that when you are in your yoga flow self-created expectations, desires or limiting feelings about oneself are stilled. They simply do not matter. You will feel in total control, present and fulfilled. In the workshop emphasis is letting go, observing and learning to finish meaning and joy in the ongoing experience of the workshop tasks.

During the workshop we learn to:

  • Understand how to make any activity into a flow or yoga experience.
  • Unlock your creative flow and liberate your inner joy
  • Develop a sense of meaning, effortless control and involvement in what you are doing.
  • Discover a deeper a sense of self and purpose.
  • Feel what it means to be totally present and not lost in an imagined future or past.  

The term autotelic derives from the Greek with, ‘auto’ meaning, self, and ‘telos’ meaning goal or task. In yoga we would call this ‘Being and doing’ or more accurately karma yoga, yoga of action where work is done not with some future reward or expectation in mind but just for the sheer joy of doing it.

When we pay attention to the activity for its own sake, not thinking about consequences or we fall in to the present.

We are in our own yoga state or ‘union’ – the goal of yoga. We are the conduit for the Flow producing activity.

 

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Yoga Nidra and feeling good!

Last night we talked a little about how important Yoga Nidra is, particularly at the beginning of the class.

 When we lead our Yoga Nidra (which means yoga sleep which in reality really means becoming awake) the objective of is to help our students find their internal point of stillness by carefully combining body, breath and mind into a single place and moment. This brings on a very deep and profound relaxed state, which will impact on every level of the mind/body field. As the body is the only part of us that ‘appears’ present, in the here and now, it is the focus for many deep relaxation techniques.

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Last night’s Level 1 YogaLife Project Class

When we practice our postures we become conscious of just how stiff and tense we are. Many of us unknowingly hold parts of our bodies in tension all of the time. Even when we are asleep the body maintains the tension. Holding tension is something that we don’t notice until something goes wrong and we begin feel tired, tense and anxious. Learning to relax means becoming aware of where these areas are and how we can change them.

The intention of our YLP Nidra at the beginning of the class is to help our students build a portal or threshold into the now. Moment-by-moment we lead their attention from the outside world and the day’s events to the here and now of the yoga studio, on the mat. It’s a combination of deep relaxation and stillness allied with underlying experience of potential and intention.

Scientific research[1] on Yoga Nidra reports an increased endogenous dopamine[2] release in the ventral striatum [3] a finding accompanied by a reported “decrease desire for action.” Its also known that expressions of loving-kindness, a sense of connectedness, and feelings of trust and cooperation have all shown to produce increased activity in the ventral striatum.

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This is where the striatum is located.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is why yoga nidra is a vital practice. If we skip it or don’t give it the importance it deserves then we are really not practicing yoga. We are simply just lying down.

Which is okay but its not yoga!

 

The notes:

[1] Kjaer, T. W., Bertelsen, C., Piccini, P., Brooks, D., Alving, J., and Lou, H. C. (2002). Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Brain Res. Cogn. Brain Res. 13, 255–259.

[2] In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and most addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity. Other brain dopamine pathways are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of various hormones. These pathways and cell groups form a dopamine system which is neuromodulatory. Wikipedia

[3] The ventral striatum is closely associated with decision-making, risk, and reward, in addition to suppressing certain actions in the limbic system. It primarily mediates reward cognition, reinforcement, and motivational salience.[10] Dopamine is its most vital neurotransmitter; thoughts of gain (monetary, emotional, or otherwise) will increase dopamine in the ventral striatum, whereas thoughts of loss decrease dopamine. Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

Down at the seaside…

MTUD have joined in with way finding architects, Placemarque to develop a way finding, identity and town centre investment framework for Littlehampton on the West Sussex coast. The project involves developing a strategy, which will link the town centre back into its seafront and beach and the new River Arun Promenade now under construction.

Preview…

Here are two shots of Passport Office. I think it might be finished now. Built around the carcass of a kitchen cupboard I found in a skip.  Most of the over skin is made of found objects painted with textured external paint. If you look closely you will find some small figures standing on the roof.

The name is a reference to Apollo House in Croydon which used to be the UK Passport Office. Built in the late 60’s it too has a wonderful wing on its roof.

Passport office 2Passport office

3 months in…

Today MTUD has been in business three months. It’s going well.

Being back in the city I have made contact with all my old friends, collaborators and colleagues. The new office is great too and I have made friends with barista in the new Albert Square Costa…

Projects are growing. I am working on an interesting strategy for Sandwell Country Park with the Leisure Consultancy, which seems to be leading to more work focusing on concept making and feasibility work.

I am also back designing churches with a nice project in Chorlton.

I am also out, giving talks and workshops. Last month saw me leading a workshop on well being at Lancaster University and next week I am giving a talk entitled Happy by Design for the NW Region RTPI event, ‘Planning for a Healthy Future’, at BDP on well-being and place making. This will be the first time I have put together well being as set out by the New Economics Foundation and place making design tactics…watch this space.

I have finally joined the establishment too. I have just been elected an Urban Academician (about time too) and then directly got roped in as local helper.  I have also become an Affiliate of the RTPI and an Ambassador for Placed based in Liverpool.

I am still drawing and making too. Here is the view from drawing table…

City view