I was privileged to spend last Sunday presenting a workshop on yoga and mindfulness for anxiety and stress. While the wonderful Isabelle held the tiller through the soothing waters of mindfulness, I complemented her contribution by offering physical paths to access stillness.
In the morning, I focused on yoga and bringing awareness out of the head and into the joints, bones and muscles of the body, having guests explore sensation and sit with it. But everyone has a different learning style ~ what if, especially if someone is new to yoga, they find frustration in sensation rather than acceptance, that the messages coming from the body lead the mind away from stillness, rather than towards it?
It makes sense then to offer the option of finding stillness through movement; to keep the body flowing in and out of poses thus reducing the risk of physical discomfort distracting the beginner's mind. If the body is allowed to move with gentle deliberation, the mind can move with a softer focus ~ feeling its way to quietude.
With this in mind, in the afternoon I introduced the workshop to Baduanjin Qigong ~ The Eight Silken Brocades, The Eight Silken Movements ~ a beautiful balance between activity and rest, breath and body, mind and spirit ~ sukha and sthira. I'm a real fan of Qigong, and those who attended the Summer Dare Workshop in May with Julia Waters will recognise the practice! To my mind, for the yoga novice it's the perfect way to soothe the mind through the body, especially if there are concerns that frustrations arising from physical issues, such as arthritis and chronic stiffness, will spoil any mindfulness practice.
Find below a wonderful video by Mimi Kuo-Deemer, introducing the Brocades, the moves and their benefits. Give it a go and enjoy. There's a lovely moment when a curious passerby stares into the camera ~ Mimi's reaction is so beautiful, you'll feel calmer just watching it!