Mindfulness can be described as a state of being fully aware of the present moment....whether in body, mind, emotion, experience or life as a whole. Mindfulness is at the heart of Zen Yoga and an inseparable element of the practice, complemented by focus on physical alignment and an improved flow of energy. May teaches Zen Yoga in a way that brings holistic awareness through spiritually embracing the union of body, mind and soul in a slow and gentle meditative practice. Tapping into the Chakras, subtle body and energy whilst coordinating breath, visualisation and gentle movement to release tension, restore bodily function and nourish your being. May also offers Reiki during the visualisation based savasana, as a little boost of divine love and life force energy from the Universe.
On a physical perspective a slow and gentle restorative practice can reduce fatigue, improve the nervous system function by building resilience to stress, decreasing high (fight-or-flight) cortisol levels and bringing in a resting response to help manage pain better as well as promote detox and digestion for your wellbeing.
Whilst on an emotional or psychological plane this slow and gentle practice can promote relaxation as well as positivity, decrease emotional reactivity, develop interoceptive awareness to help you feel into your body better, and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Therefore a practice with May often becomes a journey into yourself with time to be fully present and a tool to help you be ready for what the busyness of life may bring.
The gentleness of our Zen Yoga style is suitable for beginners as well as those more familiar with yoga.
"Hasten slowly...and you shall soon arrive."
What will you gain in your practice with May?
It might be a different perspective to a successful practice as classified by most of society today, as you are unlikely to gain perfection of a headstand or suddenly rip out in hulk-like muscles. What you will gain through a practice with May is perhaps a deeper understanding of yourself, as well as a little more love, acceptance and respect for yourself as a whole being......as you go into a sacred journey within. This can come about in different ways:
When your disturbing ever-jumping monkey mind suddenly quiets down to realise you are fully listening to what is said and immersed into breathing through a pose in serenity of peace....
When your voices of deep inner insecurities or harsh worries fueled from anxiety, stress, self-esteem or self-love issues suddenly fall silent as you love the feeling of calmness you suddenly notice....
When your constant torturous aches and pains suddenly eases to a deep release to slowly lighten your body....
When you see what is held in your beautiful Heart Chakra and can finally come to terms with letting it go or embracing it fully....
When you experience sensations or discover feelings you never thought about as you follow the visualisation during Savasana....
When you return home to finally be able to have a restful night of sleep....
When you realise you are recovering from fatigue as each practice brings you a bit more energy and makes you feel more sacred again....
"Mindfulness and awareness are key. Do we see the stories that we’re telling ourselves and question their validity? When we are distracted by a strong emotion, do we remember that it is part of our path? Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else? If we can remember to experiment like this even occasionally, we are training as a warrior. And when we can’t practice when distracted but know that we can’t, we are still training well. Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on."
~Pema Chödrön (Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion)
The roots of Zen Yoga
From a time when Buddha practised with the forest sages in his quest for enlightenment, exploring yogic Asanas (postures) as well as highly regarded Raja Yoga (meditation). Through Buddhism, some schools have long named practices of chanting, prostrations, breathing and meditation as yoga.....with some schools adapting to their own form of physical yoga such as Tibetan Yantra Yoga and Japanese Zen Yoga.
Later within Zen temples, monks practised yogic exercises focused on mindfully releasing tension, energy flow and encouraging healing to aid those training in Zen meditation, but it was not until Masahiro Oki started using the term that Zen Yoga became more known. Today Zen Yoga can be practised by anyone who values living in mindfulness and being open to exploring spirituality.
"Gyate Gyate Hara Gyate, Haruso Gyate Boji Sowaka."
[Going, going, on beyond, totally beyond, grounding in enlightenment.]
~ The Heart Sutra / Prajnaparamita Sutra
a. 'Zen Yoga' at The Yoga Place, Woolwich Arsenal:
Weekly: Sundays (6.30pm-7.45pm)
Location: 9-11 Gunnery Terrace, Woolwich, London SE18 6SW
b. 'Gentle Yoga' in Bermondsey is a free Community Class open to anyone above the age of 55 and a volunteer project with Age UK:
Weekly: Tuesdays (10.30am-11.30am)
Location: Yalding Healthy Living Center, 95 Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey London SE16 3TY
More information: www.ageuk.org.uk/lewishamandsouthwark/our-services/healthy-living/the-healthy-living-centre/
c. Online Free Mini-Course: '7 Days of Zen Yoga':
Explore mindfulness and a bit of the different elements in Zen Yoga at your own pace through our mini video course on YouTube (playlist): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ8LBVXyg70W3fgSkdPBUMjiA4Z11QMYf