A chocolate meditation

Chocolate should be savoured – and it is with this fabulous mindfulness practice that Astrid Pickup has adapted from the raisin meditation that Theresa Jamieson wrote about in her book: The complete book of yoga and meditation for pregnancy.

Each Easter Astrid’s yoga students are just a little more enthusiastic when they lay down their mats for a class, as at the end of the session, Astrid holds a Chocolate Meditation.

She says: “I give the students a week’s notice so they can buy a chocolate alternative if they need to. A tarami almond or sultana is also suitable.”

Then for all of Astrid’s classes – seniors and teens alike, she will encourage her students to sit comfortably and then hand out a wrapped chocolate egg.

“The students sit with the egg in their hand – on the opened wrapper, so it doesn’t melt. Then they are asked to feel the weight of it in the palm of their hand.” She says.

“After a few moments they bring the egg closer to their noses to notice the smell – and observe the saliva glands and any thoughts or emotions that the chocolate aroma might arouse… while they do this, they still can’t eat the chocolate! It can be nice to also get the students to think about the ingredients of the food they are about to ingest. E.g. if plant based the sunlight, water and nutrients that have gone into producing the cacao bean, almond or sultana.

“Eventually they can place the chocolate on the tongue, but not eat it!. They feel it melt a bit in their mouth and then use their tongue to notice the changes in texture and taste. Slowly they can chew into it or let it sit in their mouth and eventually they swallow the chocolate. Once the chocolate has been dissolved and swallowed they then observe the aftertaste. Also ask the students if they are satisfied with what they just had or is there a craving for more? The second piece would not taste the same.”

Astrid explains it is a fun practice which always proves very popular, but it is also a good way to encourage people to be mindful and take their time to appreciate all the senses.

The challenge will be encouraging your kids to do this when the Easter Bunny visits…! Good luck and enjoy Easter!

Sign up for seniors!

The first time I taught a Seniors Yoga class I was a bit daunted. It was at a retirement village with eight women (plus a token man) who ranged in age from early 60s to late 80s.

It did take a little longer than usual to discuss injuries and medical conditions – but they were all quick to tell me that they wanted a work out. In fact one student got straight to the point: “None of this relaxation stuff,’ she muttered. ‘I want to move!”

So we began in Tadasana – standing behind the chairs – which were there for support. Then we did joint release movements followed by some gentle limbering and classic chair yoga poses.

It’s now a year on and I’m still teaching every week. I’ve had to draw upon an extensive library of yoga poses and movements to ensure the sessions are a little different and challenging each time.

One of the most popular elements has been a mini aerobics workout that we do in the middle of the session. Back in the early 90s I did an Aerobics Instructor course and nearly 30 years on I’m finally making good use of those hamstring curls and grapevines!

We do a mix of gentle limbering, joint releases, chair yoga, balance work, aerobics and then a series of seated postures for core and pelvic floor followed by a breathing practice and a mini relaxation.

It’s a fabulous group, everyone has a laugh we all share our news and gripes about the weather and growing old. Some people have to sit a little closer as they are a bit hard of hearing and others need to hang on a little more to the chair for support. But it’s a hugely rewarding and fun class.

So if you are not already teaching a Seniors Yoga class then it’s definitely a good session to consider – and make sure you enrol in the IYTA’s hugely popular Seniors Yoga workshop – which is now being held in Perth and well as Sydney.

Upcoming Seniors Courses