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Tapas Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

Get strong with the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge! #peacocktreeplank21days

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Ready to take up the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge?

We'd love to see your creative planking too!

We’d love to see your creative planking too!

Following our hugely successful 7-day #peacocktreelent, we’re upping the ante and challenging you to build yourself up to a three-minute plank, over the course of 21 days!

Why we run the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge

The Peacock Tree 21-day plank challenge is your opportunity to create strength in both body and mind; to develop your will power – and build a core of steel in the process. And it’s perfect for powering us up as we move into the firey months of the year!

It’s not as hard as it sounds – you just need to build up gradually by following the plan. But beware – once you’ve discovered your potential, there’ll be no stopping you!!

Print off the 21-day Plank Challenge practice sheet , stick it to the fridge, and while you wait for the kettle to boil at the start or end of the day, for example, get on your yoga mat and plank like there’s no tomorrow!

The Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge schedule

Keeping track of your progress

Can't afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we'll support you! #peacocktreeplank21days

Can’t afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we’ll support you! #peacocktreeplank21days

Try your best to meet your daily goals – and give yourself a sense of satisfaction each time, by ticking the relevant box (as flamboyantly as you wish!). And let us know how it’s going – post your photos and films on Instagram and Facebook – but don’t forget to tag them with #peacocktreeplank21days!

Oh, and if you want to give us and your fellow students a laugh, feel free to get playful with it – find a strange location to practice, do it in your work clothes, or try some plank variations!

But above all, enjoy it – be grateful for what your body is allowing you to do (even on days when your body doesn’t allow you to meet your goal), really feel how your body is changing and becoming stronger, and join in with our online conversations for support and motivation throughout the challenge. Not part of our Facebook community? Come into the fold!

Not sure how to do plank properly?

The simplest, safest and easiest way to build yourself up to a three minute plank is to adopt dolphin plank, which involves resting on your forearms with elbows bent, rather than on your hands and with straight arms. Keep your toes tucked under and your body and legs off the floor, in a strong horizontal line (like a plank!).

Plank

Is your plank straight?

If you find it too difficult to hold the full posture, drop your knees to the floor for extra support – just make sure your thighs and torso are in a straight line. And do try to lift your knees again as the challenge progresses – you might surprise yourself!

If your neck hurts, you can always place a block or a stack of books beneath your face and rest your forehead on it while you hold the posture.

If you’re familiar with plank and other core strength exercises, you might like to work on some plank variations – be it a high plank, a side plank, or an acro yoga plank…

Beware of a cheating bottom!

Your biggest foe during this challenge will be your bottom. It will either try to cheat, by being higher than the rest of your body, or it will be lazy, sagging down to create an unwelcome dip in the centre of the posture.

Not sure if you have a cheating or lazy bottom? Then check yourself out in a mirror or ask someone else to tell you if your body is in a straight line.

Ready? Okay, download the The Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge schedule and get planking!!

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A week of #peacocktreelent

Well done everyone and thank you SO much for getting involved with #peacocktreelent. You’ve amazed, inspired and amused us with the things you chose to give up – from coleslaw (yes, really!) to your car, technology, the daily mail on-line (ha!), packets of haribo . . . to name but a few – WE SALUTE YOU! Here’s a look back on some of your Facebook and Instagram posts – click on the images to read the comments that accompanied them.

DAY 1 – Letting go

DAY 2 – Motivation

DAY 3 – Alternatives

DAY 4 – Temptation

DAY 5 – Support

DAY 6 – Benefits

DAY 7 – Insights

Everybody loves the sunshine…

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Have you ever considered why it is that we wait with such eager anticipation for the Summer sun to arrive? Why you find yourself checking the long-range forecast, in the hope of finding evidence that Britain will actually be bathed in sunshine at some point?

everybody loves the sunshine

The fire element inspires play…

The sun feels nice, we can wear our lightest clothes (or nothing at all!), feel free and easy… We can eat outside, even if it’s late in the evening. The light has a magical quality. And when the threat of rain doesn’t loom, we’re more inclined to play – by ourselves, with our families and friends, and even strangers.

These are all good reasons for anticipating the arrival of summer, but there’s another reason, too; Summer, and the element of fire it brings, plays an important part in our spiritual wellbeing and evolution…

Everybody needs the sunshine…

“The Fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm. During summer, the season of maximum expansion, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest.” – Neil Gumenick

According to Chinese medicine, Summer delivers the promises of Spring. It’s the time when the plans and intentions we set in Spring blossom fully, giving us the opportunity and power to present our truest and most impressive selves to the world. And because we are part of nature, this is a natural thing for us to do each year. So much so, that when we lack fire at this time of year, everything just feels wrong – or, as Neil Gumenick puts it in one of his articles on the Five Elements , “we can feel isolated and spiritually cut off, uninspired, fearful, empty, and disconnected from life”.

How to fire up your summer (with or without the sun!)

"During summer, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest."

“During summer, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest.”

If you do happen to encounter some sun at some point during the Summer, capitalise on it! Get outside, socialise, live your passions! Dance naked on the beach! Swim naked in the sea – even for 5 minutes, it takes a decade off you!  And tap into the self-sustaining power of the sun by taking your yoga practice outside, into nature, each time our biggest star extends even a finger of light from the sky.

And on those days (or during those weeks!) when the sun doesn’t seem to shine at all, when you don’t feel warmed to the core, and just generally seem to have lost your mojo?

Light your own fire!

Chinese Medicine suggests working on the heart meridian, to “re-establish our connection to the Divine and … awaken us to the security provided by the current of love that permeates existence.” What we’re being told, in a nutshell, is that focusing on the heart can help us to really feel universal love – great big flames of the stuff! We can find our own blistering Summer – right there inside us. And, happily for us yoga folk, our practice can aid us in doing so…

Firing up your yoga practice

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be working on the anahata, or heart chakra, in Peacock Tree Yoga’s classes – exploring backbends and other postures which assist us on our path to an open heart. You can begin at home simply by focusing on love and the unity of all things, as you move through your sun salutations. Even if the sun doesn’t light up the room as a result, the fire in your heart and soul most definitely will.

The video below was filmed during our recent holiday in Turkey. A deep backbend just seemed like the right thing to do in all that sun – and it felt lovely, even if I couldn’t see much with my cap covering my eyes!

The 21-Day Plank Challenge

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Ushering in the Summer with the 21-day plank challenge

Don’t stop reading now – this is NOT an attempt to throw this Chinese policeman’s record-breaking eight-hour plank into a cocked hat, with your own three-week plank!

The Peacock Tree 21-day plank challenge is your opportunity to create strength in both body and mind, and set your Summer alight! And all with a 3-minute plank.

It’s not as hard as it sounds – you just need to build up gradually by following the plan (see link below) and ignoring the little voice telling you there are better things to be doing than building phenomenal core strength.

How to do plank

plank-challenge-collage

Don’t let your bottom cheat!!

For the challenge, we ask you to adopt dolphin plank, which involves resting on your forearms with elbows bent, rather than on your hands and with straight arms. Keep your toes tucked under and your body and legs off the floor, in a strong horizontal line (like a plank!).

If you find it too difficult to hold the full posture, drop your knees to the floor for extra support – just make sure your thighs and torso are in a straight line. And do try to lift your knees again as the challenge progresses – you might surprise yourself!

If your neck hurts, you can always place a block or a stack of books beneath your face and rest your forehead on it while you hold the posture.

How not to do plank

Your biggest foe during this challenge will be your bottom. It will either try to cheat, by being higher than the rest of your body, or it will be lazy, sagging down to create an unwelcome dip in the centre of the posture.

Not sure if you have a cheating or lazy bottom? Then check yourself out in a mirror or ask someone else to tell you if your body is in a straight line.

Action!

Print off the 21-day Plank Challenge practice sheet below, stick it to the fridge, and while you wait for the kettle to boil at the start or end of the day, for example, get on your yoga mat and plank like there’s no tomorrow!

21-Day Plank Challenge Practice Sheet

Keep going, stay focused, and keep your eyes on the prize! What’s the prize? The ability to hold plank for 3 minutes within 3 weeks, a core of steel and all the strength you’ll need for our next big Yin Yang workshop on June 4th – more details coming soon!

And when you waiver, just remember:

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain

Spring clean your mind for Lent!

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Imagine what it would feel like to not want anything…

We’re not talking about the things we need to survive, like food, shelter and warmth. Rather, the things we desire – the ‘perfect’ dress, the latest iPhone, that lovely butter with salt crystals in it…

Being free of desire – and the resulting discomfort or pain we experience if that desire is not fulfilled – sounds liberating, and it is! But getting there does take effort. If you’re prepared to put some effort in (and the 40 days of Lent is the perfect opportunity to do so) keep reading.

Why do we have wants and desires?

Spring clean your mind

It’s beautiful – but your happiness is not dependent on it.

In life, we mistakenly think that our happiness is dependent on external factors, such as:

  • Where we are – school, home, work, the local watering hole…
  • The people around us –and what they all do and say!
  • Our possessions – the car we drive or the clothes we wear, for example.
  • What we eat – from the flavours we crave to the aesthetics of fresh produce.

And because we believe that our happiness is dependent on these external objects, we develop minds of attachment towards them – which makes us want them.  On the flip-side, we sometimes think our happiness is threatened by certain people, things and places, and we develop minds of ‘aversion’ towards them.  Minds of attachment and minds of aversion are very uncomfortable, as we ‘loop’ the same destructive, ‘sticky’ thoughts again and again.

How our minds work (and why it’s a good idea to Spring clean your mind for Lent)

It’s easy to mistakenly identify something as a gateway to happiness. We see an object – a beautiful item of clothing, let’s say – and our mind exaggerates what we perceive to be its good qualities. We imagine how good we’ll look in it, we imagine ourselves at events wearing it, what people will say about us... and our mind becomes ‘sticky’ towards it. We want it, have to have it, begin to formulate plans to sneak off and get it… And if that item is sold out when we go to buy it, we experience suffering, we feel loss.

What’s happened is, we’ve given that object power. Before we saw the dress, its existence was of no importance to us – it had no power over us.

How to remove an object’s power

We regain control over objects by practising not feeding our desires, and Lent provides us with an opportunity to do that – to install some self-discipline, to embrace a degree of austerity. It gives us a framework for the work we need to do to free ourselves from our attachments and to create a peaceful mind.

Spring clean your mind

Tap into your Tapas!

We can use the Yogic concept of Tapas to inspire and fuel our efforts, too. As one of the five ‘Niyamas’ (things we should do – The ‘Do’s’, as opposed to the ‘Yamas’, which can be summed up as behaviours we should avoid – The ‘Do not’s!’) Tapas refers to the fire we have within us that allows us to practice mental discipline, to get things done, to do what is good for us and the people around us. In short, Tapas gives us the power – not the objects!

Make a promise to yourself, to Spring clean your mind

Spend a bit of time contemplating what things you identify as sources of happiness, and choose one to give up for the duration of Lent. It could be any of the examples listed above, even something as seemingly innocuous as milk in tea. The point is, if you want it, try not wanting it – exercise your mental discipline! And tell the people close to you what you’re doing – it’ll help you stick to your guns.

Along the way, you will experience a sense of ‘mind friction’. Whatever you’ve chosen to give up, the next time you’re faced with temptation, your mind will be cross with you. Notice that, but don’t react. Tell yourself, “Thanks for that, but right now I choose not to have any.”

In time, your desire will fade and your mind will become more peaceful. You will experience a sense of liberation And that’s where you’ll find the kind of happiness that can’t be taken from you.