Relieving Stress through Recovering the Natural Breath

October 17th, 2012 Posted in Breathing Meditation | Comments Off

Through the practice of Yoga we uncover the power of the breath. Breathing is the essence of Yoga; breathing is the essence of Life. Most people are not aware that they breathe poorly. And few of us, when faced with fatigue, illness or anxiety look to our breath as a possible source for regeneration. The following asanas will help you to discover what it feels like to breathe fully and openly.

Exploring your Breath.

Sit comfortably, either resting your hands on your knees palms up or place in Chin Mudra (join the tips of your thumb and forefinger resting the back of your hands on your knees)
Gentle seal your lips and inhale through the nose. Quietly observe your breath without judgment. Visualise the inhalation softly inflating the lungs like a large helium balloon, then a moments silence as the breath turns around, to transform itself into your exhalation.
With each breath visualize yourself joyously drawing in life energy and on each out breath consciously release any pent up emotions, letting go.
Remain the quiet observer, noticing that as your breath becomes calmer and slower, your mind, too, feels calmer and slower.

1. Pelvic Spinal Release

Detail of spine gently
arching away from floor
on inhalation

Lie in the supine position with your legs bent, feet and knees hip-distance apart.
Observe the places where your body makes contact with the earth. Gently seal your lips. As you inhale bring your awareness to your lower back region feeling the spine gently arching away from the floor on the inhalation, a moments silence, then as you exhale feel the spine gently release back into the support of the floor.
This is a gentle movement that cannot be forced; it arises from the freedom of the breath, of letting go any tension you may be holding. Visualise the deep undercurrent of the ocean moving through you, undulating your spine softly. Keep your awareness on exhaling fully as the navel draws into the spine, invigorating, cleansing and rejuvenating the spine.

Stretches the back and strengthens the abdominal muscles which relieves pressure on the lower back and thus helps swayback. Tones the lower tummy muscle and also the pelvic organs, especially the reproductive and urinary organs. Releases tightness in lower back. Helpful for menstrual problems, tailbone injury and weak bladder.

2. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Half Bridge Pose)

Rest quietly, inhale softly, a moments silence then as you begin to exhale press your feet firmly into the floor simultaneously contracting your pelvic floor muscles as the inhalation effortlessly arises and lifts your spine away from the floor.
Pause, breathing softly feeling your spine is like a hammock moving freely between the support of your shoulders and feet. Feel the in breath gently swell your abdomen, the out breath gently contracting pelvic floor drawing your navel inwards.
As you exhale see if you can lay your spine down slowly vertebrae by vertebrae as if it were a wide satin ribbon and you wish to lay it down without any creases or bumps.
Repeat slowly and in rhythm with your breath taking the time to rest between repetitions.


Interlace your hands beneath your spine and gently roll from side to side to rest on the outside of your shoulders. Breathe fully and openly, you should be able to move your head freely from one side to the other. Smile inwardly and feel the waves of energy and breathe flood through you.

Rest in Shavasasa (lying flat on you back) Take the time to lengthen the back of your neck by gently drawing your chin towards your chest and then releasing to the floor.

Strengthens the ankles, knees, thighs, hamstrings, buttocks, abdominals lower back and spine. Increases the blood circulation to the brain. Increases the mobility of the spine. Opens the lower back, hips and shoulders. Energizes the body and calms the mind. Combats depression. Opens the chest. Improves digestion and strengthens the internal organs. Relieves tension in the spine and strengthens the back and neck. Variation pose also stretches out your shoulders and the back of your neck. It has both a calming and energetic effect on the body and mind.

3. Ardha Pavana Muktasana (Half Wind Relieving Posture)

Activate your left leg along the floor by stretching your toes towards the ceiling pressing the underside of your knee to the floor. Inhale your right knee into your chest. Interlace your fingers below the knee cap.
Lengthen the back of your neck by drawing your chin slightly to your chest.
Gently draw the knee into the chest using your arms keep the shoulders relaxed.
As you inhale allow the knee to move away from the body, as you exhale actively press your knee into your belly.
Repeat breathing deeply. Inhalation the body opens –the knee moves away from the body, exhalation the body draws in – the knee draws in.

Repeat on the opposite side.
Inhale your left knee to your chest, interlace your fingers below the knee cap and release you right leg to the floor slowly.

Gently stretches the lower back lengthening and healing the spine. Improves digestion as well as elimination. Helps the body to breathe deeply removing toxins from the body rejuvenating and energising.

4. Supine Spinal Twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, feet and knees hip-distance apart, arms out to the sides at shoulder level. Inhale, exhale, become aware of your physical imprint upon the floor. Breathe openly and deeply. Inhale, exhale and begin to release your knees over to the right as your head gently turns to the left. Pause, breath and bring your awareness to the lengthening of the entire spine.
Reverse to the other side. Be sure to keep both shoulders relaxed onto the floor.

Relaxes your lower back; relieves backaches, stiffness, headaches and fatigue. Helpful to do after a long day of sitting in a car or at desk. Also relieves strain from standing for long periods. Improves functioning of internal organs, circulation; strengthens and limbers the shoulder, back and hip joints; helps to trim the waistline.

5.Apanasana (Knee to Chest Pose)

Actively contract the pelvic floor and draw your knees to your chest one at a time.
Hug your knees into your chest, close your eyes and visualise this pose gently massaging your lower back and internal organs. Breath. Inhalation knees move gently away from your chest, exhalation knees gently press into your chest.

Releases tension in the lower back. May be helpful for sciatic pain. Stimulates peristalsis which helps with constipation. Holding this pose for longer lengths of time may relieve back spasms. Relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause.

Complete your sequence resting in Shavasana (Complete Relaxation)
You may wish to place a rolled up blanket or towel under your knees. Rest with your eyes softly closed observing your breath.

Om Shanti

Spinal Workshop

April 1st, 2012 Posted in Workshops | Comments Off

Discovering your Spine
A different approach to a supple and strong back                                                                                             

Yoga Workshop
9am – 1pm Sunday 25th March 2012

The first structure that forms in an embryo is the spine from which all other structures gain form.
The spine is of great importance.

The effect of having a sore back does not only cause pain, discomfort and is de habilitating it also has an effect on your health. It shifts your nervous system into a sympathetic mode that means stress, on your heart and other organs. This activates your adrenals which are probably already under physical stress being compressed from poor posture putting further pressure on your kidneys draining your vital energy. This tension puts pressure on the vertebrae bodies leading to chronic spine degeneration. Pain in your back affects every facet of your being leading to a suppressed immune system.
When was the last time you awoke feeling vitalized & energetic?

Yoga is unique in its ability to heal and restore the full function of the back by strengthening and stretching the muscles supporting the structure of the back, reducing inflammation and increasing circulation of body fluids and prana.

• We will learn how to walk, stand, sit, breath and relax
• We will stretch, strengthen and discover our spine
• You will gain knowledge, and experience that knowledge so it becomes your own to take home
• We will learn to work with, not against our bodies providing a wave of extension for the spine
• You & your nervous system will discover freedom in your spine creating a new way of being in both body & mind.
• Discover the breath connection as the breath, spine and nervous system work together effortlessly

Suitable for any age any ability, no yoga experience required we begin here.

Where: Manasa Yoga Studio
Date: Sunday 25th March 2012
Time: 9am – 1pm – please aim to arrive 15 minutes earlier
RSVP: by email

Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop

July 15th, 2011 Posted in Workshops | Comments Off

Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop                                                  

Sunday 7th November

10am -1.00pm

The principle of Ayurvedic preparation and cooking is the understanding that food is medicinal and its action on the body is both healing and nourishing.

Ayurvedic cooking is part of the whole embodiment of Yoga, therefore the cooking is both an art and a science when cooking becomes alchemy and the food becomes love.

What we will share:

  • Each participant will complete individual Dosha evaluation
  • Hands on cooking a full course Ayurvedic meal (All food provided)
  • Sit down and share the offering in a sacred space
  • Education on the principles of Ayurvedic cooking that you will be able to apply in your own home
  • Take home recipes and notes

When: Sunday 7th November

Bookings essential

Manasa Yoga Workshop for Rejuvenation and Healing: Sunday 19th June 2011

May 29th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized, Workshops | Comments Off

Manasa Yoga Workshop for Rejuvenation & Healing

How are you living your life?
Are you being drained by life instead of being empowered?
Does each day present itself as an opportunity for transformation or simple survival; do you live to work, or work to live?
Winter is the season of rejuvenation and nurturing. This is represented by the water element (kidney/bladder) and associated with our deepest source of chi or energy.

As a result of stress, fear, mental exhaustion (obsessive thoughts) and lack of rest, our kidney energy becomes depleted, ultimately resulting in disease.

This workshop will consist of 4 hours of:

• Rejuvenating and nurturing asana’s focusing on strengthening the kidney energy, spine and associated organs.
• Deep breathing to reduce emotional and mental psychological stress.
• Learning through theory and practice how shallow breathing undermines our health, reduces our vitality and leads to anxiety.
• Relative reflexology points through the feet to release blockages.

Date: Sunday 19th June


Please bring a light lunch, water, yoga mat/blanket warm clothes for meditation.
Ayruvedic refreshments will be provided including chai tea and pumpkin soup. Namaste

Demonstration Video of the Sun Salutation in the Sivananda Tradition

March 30th, 2011 Posted in You Tube Videos | Comments Off


Hasta Utthanasana

Salutations to the Shining One

Salutations to the Sun


Overcoming Depression

October 9th, 2010 Posted in Overcoming Depression | Comments Off

Yoga can be defined as to ‘Know Oneself’

In the Western world we associate Yoga  essentially with only the postures. However Yoga is much more than this.

Self Knowledge

Over 2000 years ago the enlightened masters of that period recognized that they needed to develop a path for people to gain enlightenment, consciousness in order to continue to evolve the human race.

They recognized that first and foremost in order to understand the Self you must understand the Mind.

In order for the mind to be open to receive this information it must be prepared.

Most people live in a state of chaos and mayhem chasing their chattering minds, rarely being present.

So they developed the 5 paths of Yoga.

  • Yoga Postures (asanas) to develop a healthy body and tranquil mind.
  • Pranayama – in order to breathe and maintain a high degree of health and awareness.
  • Diet/nutrition – to nourish the body.
  • Relaxation – to understand the need to rest the body and not exhaust it.
  • Self Knowledge – Vedanta. This knowledge is within each and every one of us.

The teacher’s role is not to give knowledge but to reveal the knowledge. It is a beautiful tradition. A simple logical tradition where step by step the truth and understanding of the self is revealed.

There are two types of knowledge – Objective Knowledge –external of acquired knowledge

-  Absolute Knowledge – the study of the self

We recognize that everything in the external world is changing, finite, immortal, it is the nature of the subjective world, the only thing which is immortal, infinite and unchanging is the Self or Soul (whichever word you relate to) this is your only reference point in life.

We also recognize that our natural state of being is happiness, but while we project our happiness into the external material world and on others we lead a life of suffering and chaos, ups and downs.

Happiness is found within, while we may academically accept this, we do not know how to find it. First and foremost we must understand the Self.

This leads to a life of bliss, clarity and happiness beyond what you may have experienced or perhaps had brief glances of, such as when you witnessed a beautiful sunset, or a birth of a child. It is in those moments your mind completely stilled, in those moments you were with yourself.

Self knowledge reveals the experience of living constantly in joy, happiness, peace and beauty, not as emotions but as a state of being.

Life becomes more beautiful and you experience every day to your full potential with clarity and grace.

Self knowledge reveals your life path.

Please refer to regular posts on Self Knowledge on

Om Shanti

© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward

Vinyasa Yoga Sequence

October 7th, 2010 Posted in Vinyasa Yoga Sequence | Comments Off

In this post I have presented a beautiful vinyasa sequence that I taught in my classes this week. This represents for me the essence of one’s yoga practice, to be completely immersed in the breath, the link between the mind and body.

Enjoy, feel the beautiful breath guiding you, stilling the mind.


  1. Pavanmuktasana (One legged wind relieving pose)  

Lie in Shavasana (flat on your back, complete relaxation)

  1. Bring your attention to your breath, breathing in and breathing out. On your next exhalation apply mula bhanda (squeeze the perinium,contract the pelvic floor drawing your navel gently inwards) while drawing your left knee towards your belly. Interlace your hands over your shin bone just below the knee as you draw your thigh into your chest. Let it rest just a little to the side, leaving space for the full expansion of the breath.
  2. Lengthen your right leg along the floor activating the knee by pointing the toes upwards, pressing the underside of the knee into the floor.
  3. As you inhale gently allow the left knee to move away from the chest and as you exhale gently press the knee into the chest. Feel the movements arising from the breath, the movements will be small. Feel the gentle undulation of the spine on the floor beneath you, like a gentle swell in the deepest ocean. Relax your shoulders, soften you facial muscles, breathe.

Repeat on the opposite side.


This asana helps in removing the gases accumulated in the digestive tract. It is good for relieving pain in the back or abdomen. It improves the functioning of liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas. Helps to tone the abdomen and develops elasticity in the diaphragm.

2. Supta Padangusthasana (one leg up, one leg down)  

  1. Continuing from Pavanmuktasana begin to extend your right foot towards the ceiling clasping your hands around the right leg where ever you can easily hold. Simultaneously lengthen the left leg along the floor, stretching the toes to the ceiling as you press the heel and underside of your knee to the floor.
  2. Draw your chin gently in towards your chest as you lengthen the back of the neck, then gently retract the neck so the chin moves towards the throat (Jalandhara bhanda) Apply mula bhanda (as above).
  3. Extend the heel of the right foot upwards towards the ceiling as you stretch the toes to the crown of your head; broaden the shoulder blades across your back.
  4. Widen the collarbones away from the sternum as you keep the chest open. As you inhale feel the opening through your body and as you exhale continue to lengthen and deepen the stretch in the right leg. Breathe.


The upper body releases and abdomen relaxes, improves digestion. Stimulates prostate gland. Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves while strengthening the knees. Relieves backache, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort.  Bringing calm to the body and mind.


To modify the pose for high blood pressure or a stiff neck, use a folded blanket under the head and neck.

Cautions and Contraindications:

Do not do the following poses if you have a back injury, sensitivity in your lower back or have a headache. Don’t do the pose with carpal tunnel syndrome or sore wrists. Avoid the pose in pregnancy.

3. Supta Padangusthasana – continuation    

  1. This is a continuation of the pose. Grasp the inside of the right foot with your right hand. If the hand does not yet reach the foot than loop a strap or theraband around the foot and hold onto the strap with the right hand as close to the right foot as possible.
  2. On your next exhalation lower your raised right leg down to or towards the floor aligned with the right shoulder. Keep the leg extended and avoid bending the knee throughout.
  3. As you descend the right leg towards the floor, roll the left hip to the left (you may like to place your left hand on your left hip) to reduce the tendency to raise the left buttock and hip. Some people can bring the leg to the floor while others won’t. Some will have the foot aligned with the shoulder while others will be aligned with a spot closer to the hips. Wherever you come now, this is the place you need to be. Your body will continue to open and lengthen with practice.
  4. The awareness is with keeping the legs extended and a flat pelvis. Maintain your toe hold or strap hold with your right hand. The left leg should be maintained fully extended on the floor with the left toes pointing towards the sky throughout. Breathe consciously through this stretch.
  5. Inhale, exhale apply mula bhanda. Keeping the extension of your right leg slowly raise it up again to point towards the ceiling.


Stretches the hamstrings and hips. Helps relieve lower back pain and sciatica. The thighs, groin and claves are stretched as the knees strengthen. Increases blood flow in the legs and hips. Nerves are toned by the increased circulation. Relieves stiff hips and provides relief for woman who experience menstrual discomfort.

4. Supta Padangusthasana variation

  1. Now place your left hand on the inside of your right leg as you extend your right arm out at shoulder height.
  2. Inhale, as you begin to exhale apply mula bhanda and release your right leg over your body. Gently turn your head towards the right. Breath into this stretch, feeling the opening through the entire torso. Again, for some of us the leg may not initially extend to the floor, this is fine, wherever you are, simply breathe into where you feel the stretch.
  3. Feel the beautiful opening through the length and breadth of the torso. Anchor your right shoulder to the floor. Enjoy the body unfolding.


Helps to stretch the calf and hamstring muscles. Alleviates lower back pain. Opens the chest, stimulates the breath as it opens through the intercostals. Strengthens the diaphragm. Deeply relaxing.

5. Supta Padangusthasana continuation

1. From previous position inhale, exhale; apply mula bhanda as you simultaneously return the right leg over your midline. Keep the right leg extending as you slowly raise it up again to point towards the ceiling. Breath through this stretch for several breathes.

2. Now apply (Jalandhara bhanda) by drawing your chin gently in towards your chest as you lengthen the back of the neck, then gently retract the neck so the chin moves towards the throat. Bend your elbows to keep the neck and shoulders soft, keep the belly toned, draw the navel deep into your spine, and breathe. Anchor your right leg to the floor by extending the toes of the right foot towards the ceiling as you extend your heel away from your body.

3. In this asana the leg is drawn towards the head not the head to the leg. Close your eyes, and feel into where the body wants to open, keep releasing the tension from the upper body as you soften into the asana.

4. When you are ready to come out of this pose, apply mula bhanda and slowly release out of the asana allowing the right leg to softly return to the floor.

5. Repeat all of the Supta Padangusthasana variations now on the opposite leg.


Strong lengthening through the thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves while strengthening the knees. Relieves backache, sciatica.  Opens through the hips. Tones the abdomen and increases elasticity of diaphragm. Regenerates nerves and enhances circulation throughout the body.

6. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana One legged pigeon pose Preparatory  pose

  1. Roll over onto hands and knees and slide your left knee forward until it rests between your hands. Now tuck the toes under of the back foot and ‘walk your right leg back as far as you can. Ideally until the left heel is resting in the groin. Release the top of the foot to the floor. Anchor down firmly through the wrists, keeping the inside of the elbow forward facing. Lengthen the neck as you gaze softly towards the floor.
  2. Hold this position and bring your awareness to the breath, let go of any tension you may be holding onto in the buttocks and hips, let gravity release downwards.
  3. If you can hold this asana easily, now descend to rest your elbows and forearms on the floor in the same position as your hands. Ensure you keep your weight aligned over the center. Let your forehead rest on the floor and soften into the asana just as a young child can sleep in any position, totally relaxed.
  4. Breathe into any area in the body where you feel tightness.
  5. To come out of this position place your hands down firmly grasping the mat with your finger tips and lengthen upwards to first position. Rest here for a moment before transitioning to the opposite side.


Stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck. Stimulates the abdominal organs. Opens the shoulders and chest. Faciliatates deeper breathing, and opens the heart.

7. Shavasana – (Complete Relaxation)

1. Lying on your back let the arms and legs release openly, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body. Make sure you are warm and comfortable, if you need to place folded blankets or cushions under your knees to relieve any discomfort.

2. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. Allow your whole body to become soft and heavy, letting it relax into the floor. As the body relaxes, feel the whole body rising and falling with each breath. A gentle wave of movement.

3. Scan the body from the toes to the fingers to the crown of the head, looking for tension, tightness and contracted muscles. Consciously release and relax any areas that you find.

4. Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body. Let your body move deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation.

5. Stay in Shavasana for 5 to 10 minutes.

To release: slowly deepen the breath, wiggle the fingers and toes, reach the arms over your     head and stretch the whole body, inhale, exhale bend the knees into the chest and roll over to one side coming into a fetal position. When you are ready, slowly inhale up to a seated position.

  • Shavasana is essential to practice at the end of every yoga practice. It rejuvenates the body, removing fatigue and soothes the mind. It helps to alleviate nervous tension and enhances recovery from illnesses.

Om Shanti

© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward

Peaceful State of Mind – Breathing Technique

August 4th, 2010 Posted in Breathing Meditation, Peaceful State of Mind - Breathing Techniques | 3 Comments »

Breathing Meditation

Your world and character are moulded by your thoughts. If you look for beauty everywhere, you will find it. The more you hold onto or engage with negativity, the more that negativity will control you.

The following exercise stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, helping to let go of mental stressors, physical tension and negative emotions.

Gently seal your lips and observe your breath.Your breath should be smooth and soundless. Begin to count your breath, inhaling for 3 seconds, pause, exhaling for 6 seconds, if this is difficult adjust to a comfortable count always ensuring the exhalation is longer than the inhalation.

There should be no stress with the breath, enjoy the sense of calmness and serenity that arises from the softness of the breath, the attention being with the breath.

Once you are comfortable with this breath begin to invite a slightly longer retention of the breath, this occurs at the end of the inhalation and before the exhalation. It is a moment of stillness, a moment of silence.

Remember the inhalation is always passive, you do not need to do anything to breath in, the exhalation arises from the inhalation.

To enhance the release of difficult emotions, mentally repeat the word “let” with each inhalation. On each exhalation, silently say the word “go”

Continue for 1 -3 minutes.


Megan – Om Shanti

© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward

The Power of Being Present

August 4th, 2010 Posted in The Power of Being Present | 2 Comments »

The Power of Being Present

In order to maintain our equilibrium in life it is important to take ‘time out’ in quiet reflection, to still the mind, to find the pause in our busy lives, to be present.

It is much like when you read a book. There must be full stops, commas and spaces between the words in order to understand the story; let there be spaces in your life to help create clarity in your life.

These moments of silence can be found when you bring your awareness to the breath.

Take a few moments every day, upon  rising, retiring and throughout the day to practice the full body breathing. Inhaling breathe softly into the abdomen then chest and on exhaling release chest then abdomen.

Keep the facial muscles soft and let the body breathe naturally, remember the inhalation arises as the result of a full exhalation. There is no effort in inhaling, simply exhale fully and the next breath spontaneously arises.

In order to keep your attention with the breath, recite the words  ‘I am breathing in’ on the inhalation and ‘I am breathing out’ on the exhalation. Let your facial muscles soften, a small smile rest at your lips.


Megan – Om Shanti

© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward

Breathing Meditation and Invocation

August 4th, 2010 Posted in Breathing Meditation and Invocation, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Breathing Meditation

One simple way to bring awareness into your life is through walking meditation. This brings your attention to the actual experience of walking as you are doing it, focusing on the sensations in your feet and legs, feeling your whole body moving. You can also integrate awareness of your breathing with the experience.

To do this exercise, focus the attention on each foot as it contacts the ground. When the mind wanders away from the feet or legs, or the feeling of the body walking, refocus your attention. To deepen your concentration, don’t look around, but keep your gaze in front of you.

We carry our mind around with us when we walk, so we are usually absorbed in our own thoughts to one extent or another. We are hardly ever just walking, even when we are just going out for a walk. Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself.

Gratitude Invocation

Be thankful for what you have achieved.

If you have not achieved anything be thankful for having tried.

If you have not tried be thankful to be alive.



Megan – Om Shanti

© Copyright 2010 Megan Ward