Why use eye pillows? April 06, 2016 10:44
Bo Forbes is a clinical psychologist, yoga teacher, integrative yoga therapist and someone I admire greatly. This is what she has to say about eye pillows...
Eye pillows have a reputation for being the new age version of snake oil: a little bit of flax, and a lot of money. Yet they may be one of our most powerful healing tools, especially when it comes to a balanced nervous system.
Light pressure on the eyeballs lowers heart rate, sometimes by quite a bit, by eliciting what’s called the oculocardiac reflex. It also stimulates the vagus nerve.
Your vagus nerve is one of twelve cranial nerves that originates in the brain, travels down the back of the neck and into the chest and heart and then moves down into the abdomen and digestive tract.
The vagus nerve has an extensive resume: It regulates heart rate and digestion and it’s the primary medium through which our belly brain regulates mood. It’s the main communicator to our rest-and-digest system, which helps us to relax more deeply. It also elicits our tend-and-befriend system, enabling us to reach out and connect with others. This is a critical factor in long-term stress resilience and research shows, in happiness.
One quick way to stimulate your vagus nerve is to use eye pillows, which place light pressure on the eyeballs.
When to use an eye pillow:
Put one over your eyes or on your forehead when you lay down to sleep. This will help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep throughout the night.
Use one at the end of your yoga practice during savasana for ultra relaxation.
Anytime you feel anxious, depressed or stressed and can use a quick pick-me-up or more grounding.
Mala beads June 09, 2015 17:10
what are Mala beads?
Mala necklaces are so much more than a beautiful piece of jewellery.
They are a very personal tool for helping you practice mantra meditation.
Mala beads are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, singing or mentally repeating a mantra. This practise is known as Japa.
Mala means garland.
Mala beads traditionally have 108 beads, as the number 108 is considered sacred.
The tassel helps to mark the beginning and end of your Mala. Sometimes Mala’s also have an extra bead. The extra bead is called the Guru bead, it also helps to mark the beginning and end of your Mala.
Why do we use Mala beads?
All spiritual paths talk about the importance of sacred vibration. Mantras help to anchor your mind by using soothing repetition. Mantras purify the consciousness by forming a bridge to the depth of our being, inner joy and bliss become more reachable through regular practice of mantra - yay!
Chanting transforms emotions by offering them to the divine. Your emotions can be expressed when chanting a mantra through your breath and voice. If your emotional state is unbalanced you may find your breath or voice or coordination uneven, as you continue through your practice you will notice balance being restored as your voice and breath find a more peaceful rhythm. In the quiet of this rhythm we align with the stillness of the universe as we become one within its rhythm.
The more you practice the easier it is to settle into this blissful rhythm.
The intention/ vibration of your mantra is stored in your beads. The more you use them the more potent they become. Wear them as a constant reminder of the mantra/ intention you are working with.
How do we use Mala beads?
Mala beads are used so that you can focus on the intention or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions.
Traditionally, your index finger represents the ego (your greatest impediment to inner peace) so it is considered best avoided when using your Mala.
- Hold the first bead of your Mala* with your thumb, middle and ring fingers, point your index finger away. Gently hold the bead with love and recite your mantra.
- When you finish your mantra roll the bead with your thumb and move to the next bead, recite your mantra again.
- Repeat till you are back at the tassel or Guru bead.
Traditionally, loudly singing your mantra helps you clear your energy, whispering your mantra softly helps to balance your emotions and thinking your mantra helps clear your mind.
It is believed mantras need to be repeated hundreds or even thousands of times for the seeker to imbibe the meaning of the mantra.
* bead next to the tassel or Guru bead
© Amy Barber 2015