JUNE 2016 - £4.50
Daily yoga at your desk
POSES FOR A HEALTHY THYROID
5 chair-based moves for the office
Destress yoga off the mat
YOGA TEACHER TRAINING
Finding stillness through movement
THE MAGIC OF RISHIKESH
The power of chanting exploring Kirtan
beat the great disconnect
• • • •
OM FM – listening to the inner teacher The yoga kitchen – healthy living OM lite – mirror, mirror Teacher Zone – the flexibility myth
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OM Magazine Issue 62, June 2016 Published by:
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The Publisher accepts no responsibility in respect of advertisements appearing in the magazine and the opinions expressed in editorial material or otherwise do not neccessarily represent the views of the Publisher. The Publisher cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the later appearance or non publication of any advertisement. Information about products and services featured within the editorial content does not imply an endorsement by OM Magazine. OM Magazine is not intended to replace the professional medical care, advice, diagnosis or treatment of a doctor, qualified therapist, nutritionist or dietician. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme. Every effort is made to ensure that all advertising is derived from reputable sources. OM Magazine cannot, however, accept responsibility for transactions between readers and advertisers.
Welcome to the June issue of OM magazine. It’s a big month in the yoga calendar with the second UN International Yoga Day set to take place, a global showcase for all things yoga. The first ‘yoga day’ in 2015 was a big hit with free classes and events taking place all over the world. So, wherever you are there’s sure to be something fun going on. This year, the actual date (June 21) falls on a Tuesday, so if you’re looking for something to do over the weekend then head to London’s Alexandra Palace - the home of the OM Yoga Show in October - for a free summer yoga festival on Sunday June 19. Expect thousands of yoga fans and dozens of free classes with inspirational teachers, plus healthy eats, music and meditation. It’s a great way to get your yoga fix on the day or to introduce any friends and relatives to the wonderful world of yoga. Make it a family day out and bring the children: there are classes for them too. To get you ready for the big day we’ve got another yoga-filled issue for you this month, including a special report on all aspects of teacher training. If you love your yoga but are still unsure whether to go for it – whether the time is right to sign up to a teaching course – then hopefully we can help. Some of the country’s favourite teachers share their wisdom and insight on subjects ranging from choosing the right course to getting class confident as you find your feet after qualification. To inspire you on the way, we’ve also got plenty of case studies and stories of real people out there doing it already, leading by example and following their dreams. This month, we have three men in the spotlight: pilot and solar pioneer André Borschberg, yoga teacher Daniel Groom, and author and coach Kyle Gray. Three different people but with three equally inspiring personal stories to tell. If it’s practical yoga you’re after then we have a detailed exploration of the role of fascia and over-stretching by the amazing Sandra Carson (page 126), or check out the 12 poses for a healthy thyroid sequence (page 44). Inside, we also have meditation, spirituality, nutrition and all things healthy living to keep you charged up and raring to go in the month ahead. Go get ‘em tiger!
OM in 30 seconds “If we can find that perfect combination of steadiness in effort, strength in movement...and sweetness in feeling just so darn good after it, then we’ll get to enjoy the benefits whether we’re on or off the mat.” #yogaalldamnday (Page 40) “You will of course develop and grow as a person and a practitioner, but ask yourself – are you really moved to teach?” Teacher Training Guide (Page 56) “Yoga gives you the capability to adapt to surprises. One becomes an observer of oneself. It gives you the ability to look at how you are. In stressful situations, during technical difficulties, you take some distance.” The Flying Yogi (Page 120)
This month’s subscription offer
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Contributors Sandra Carson
Sandra compiled our Teacher Zone article all about fascia and stretching in this issue. She has been teaching since 2002 and is an E-RYT500 and a certified Anusara instructor. In addition to teaching weekly classes, she teaches alignment, fascia and psoas workshops and yoga therapy workshops. She is a teacher at Delight Yoga and De Nieuwe Yogaschool in Amsterdam and teaches online at EkhartYoga.com. Visit: livingalignmentyoga.com
Kimberly is the owner and founder of Retreat Cafés, which are an integral part of London’s yoga, health and wellness revolution. She also caters for detox programmes. Kimberly is a trained naturopath and chef and all her recipes are focused on holistic health. She is also the author of the new book The Yoga Kitchen, which is published by Quadrille. Find our more at: retreatcafe.com
Andrea is a transformational coach, speaker and author of ‘Feel Good Factor in 30 Days’ and can often be found glowing at the back of a hot yoga class. After 10 years as a barrister, she jumped off the treadmill and transformed her life. She now transforms her clients lives using a variety of techniques, including NLP, hypnotherapy, life coaching and EFT. She lives in York with her husband Paul, her three children, and a King Charles Spaniel, Pete. andreamorrison.co.uk
Regular contributors: Siri Arti; Conscious Parenting Lesley Dawn; Life And Loves Paula Hines; Teacher’s Tales Jill Lawson; Meditation Of The Month Meg Jackson; Real Life Yoga Deb Mac; What’s Your Affirmation Sarah Swindlehurst; Yoga Therapy Victoria Jackson; OM Lite Julia White; Yoga & Aromatherapy Charlotte Watts; De-stress: Yoga Off The Mat
WORDS OF WIDSOM
See page 28
“You may never know what results come from your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” Mahatma Gandhi
56 I Will Survive: Surviving The Course
My Secret Place
58 It’s Been Emotional: The Realities Of
Yoga Changed My Life
Sent To Coventry
What’s Your Affirmation
3 Ways To Lift Your Mood
Yoga & Aromatherapy: Lavender Oil
20 OM Loves: Things For Beautiful People
Fashion: Bella Vista
Look For In A Course
62 Don’t Hold Yourself Back: 7 Ways You Can Talk Yourself Out Of It
64 Should I Stay Or Should I Go: The Pros & Cons of Different Course Types
66 Yoga Teacher Training Course Essentials: Key Components 68 Are You Ready: For Teacher Training
133 OM Books: Great Yoga Reads
72 Be Prepared: What To Do Beforehand
134 Yoga Is For Every Body: Your Community
73 11 Steps To Being A Great Yoga Teacher: Simple Steps For Better Teaching
146 OM Lite: Mirror, Mirror
74 Tips From A Teacher: Insights From an Established Teacher
Love Moves The World
Yoga At Home
OM Meets…Kyle Gray
38 It’s A Beautiful Day:
#yogaalldamnday: Real Life Yoga
Daily Yoga At Your Desk
12 Poses For A Healthy Thyroid
Yoga Therapy: Constipation
Yoga A-Z: U Is For Ustrasana
OM FM 52 Listening To The Inner Teacher: Daniel Groom
76 The Inner Journey: The Student’s Training Experience
78 Spiritual Calling: 5 Steps To Leading A
60 The Right Course For You: What To
70 Yoga Teachers As Ambassadors For Peace: Swami Vishnudevananda’s Vision
OM SPECIAL: Teacher Training
Man On The Mat: Scorpion Pose
80 Student Survival Guide: Take Heart And Sail Through Your Course
82 Trust The Process: Dealing With Baggage 84 Back To School: The Academic Aspects Of The Course
86 Getting Class Confident: Confidence For New Teachers
88 A New Way Of Life:
Training Into Your Life
90 You’ve Got The Style: Finding Your Voice 92 Never Ending Journey: When Your Teacher Training Ends
93 Support Network: Working With Your Fellow Students
94 Making A Living: The Business Of Teaching Yoga
96 Career Opportunities: The Choices After Teacher Training
97 Why Bother With Insurance: Yoga And Insurance Myths
98 What Makes A Great Teacher: 5 Principles For Teaching
OM Mind 100 Meditation Of The Month: Feeling The Fire Of Transformation
102 Finding Stillness Through Movement: De-Stress Yoga Off The Mat
104 Have A ‘Good’ Bad Day: 6 Steps For A Better Bad Day
OM Spirit 106 Mindful At 30,000 Feet: Mindful Living Above The Skies
108 The Power Of Chanting:
OM Living 110 Eat Drink Yoga: Cover Story
Healthy Eating Goodies
112 The Yoga Kitchen: Kitchen Essentials For Healthy Living
116 Nutrition Myths: 6 Simple Rules To Live By
OM Family Cover Story
118 Conscious Parenting: Beat The Disconnect
OM Actions 120 The Flying Yogi:
Swiss Solar Pilot
OM Teacher Zone 124 Life & Loves Of A Yoga Teacher Cover Story
126 Teacher Zone: The Flexibility Myth 132 Teacher’s Tales: Teaching Yoga Is A Practice
OM Travel 136 OM Travel News:
Awe Inspiring Retreats & Ideas For Yoga Explorers
138 The Magic Of Rishikesh: The International Yoga Festival
My secret place Location Rooftop, Denver, Colorado, USA Yogis Erin Hardy Photo Alison Vagnini The photo shows yogini Erin Hardy practicing high up on a rooftop, with the Denver skyline in the background. She says she chose to leave the bright lights of New York City and move to Colorado on nothing more than a whim six years ago. It was a decision that would change her life. “I was ready for a major change, fresh air, and mountains,” she says. “Within a few short months of moving I met my husband, opened a yoga studio and started living how I had always imagined.” Now, she calls it home. “This place took me in and finally showed me what home felt like. Denver is my city and I’m happy to have it as my forever backdrop.”
Love OM magazine and want to tell the world? Here’s your chance Miracle magazine My life has been a journey alone but for one never ending companion - my eating disorder. I’ve been a yoga fan all my life but sometimes, for health reasons, well, not even yoga was possible. There was even a point where I could take no more; I no longer wanted to live. At that moment, I was standing at Heathrow waiting for my flight home, and just felt ‘please god, let me survive…’. Then, as I stood there in the airport, some magic happened – I laid eyes on the newsstand and saw the OM front page. It just sparkled with positive energy and happiness. It told me, ‘Life is here…just give yourself a chance to be in it’. I felt a connection more like a miracle; and the colours – yes it was true love. So I paid for the magazine, sat down with some oatmeal and started to look through the pages without reading anything; all the feelings transferred from the pages to my senses – I didn’t need to read at that time. My husband looked really confused. “What has happened?” he asked. He could see that something had changed in my appearance; he couldn’t say what but something was totally different. “You look like you’ve had a religious experience,” he told me. Well that’s just what I have had, I thought to myself…an experience that life is life, and if I want to live mine then I have to take part in it. So, after reading the whole magazine I contacted one of the people mentioned inside, told them my story and said I needed help putting yoga into my life. I completed a course and then later started offering yoga in my hometown. I’ve never missed an OM since. Every month, I still get that amazing feeling when the issue reaches my hands. I still get inspired to live my life, to walk alone on that struggling road, but now my eating disorder isn’t the companion. No. Today, I walk with myself because I am all that I need. I’m strong enough to take part, both in life and in being responsible for it. Sometimes my husband walks with me, but as an equal. And he has also found yoga, because he also read the magazine and became curious about the energy he felt when he read it. So thank you for being there, for all the pages filled with energy, power, colour, humanity and love. Anna Andersen, by email
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Mosaics and mats
My journey with yoga started in July 2013 after months of my daughter, Nicola Heldt, asking me to try it - she is a yoga teacher in Liverpool. I work part time as a staff nurse and, while away from my job, I produce mosaics. I needed to get back into exercise. I did play netball up until 2006, retiring from the game aged 46 because of torn knee ligament injury. That’s when I decided to take up art…but there was something missing in my life. I love producing mosaics but it’s an isolated hobby. That’s history now and I thank my daughter for never giving up on me to take to the yoga mat. I hope you like my mosaic of the British Wheel of Yoga logo. P.S. I love your magazine. Madeleine Howard, by email
Send in your letters to OM Yoga and Lifestyle for your chance to WIN! THE NEXT LETTER OF THE MONTH WILL WIN: Sentiens Yoga Mat worth over £50! yogafloga.com
YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE
Liz Walker tamed her anxiety and panic through yoga and better breathing
NAME: Liz Walker AGE: 47 OCCUPATION: Mum for 21 years (an ongoing job!) and yoga teacher YOGA YEARS: 2+
Why did you start yoga
I was at a low point with anxiety and panic. I was finding it hard to leave the house and even though Iâ€™d tried yoga in the past (and found it boring) I was willing to try anything. This time, something clicked and even though my heart was racing with fear through the practice, by the end, I wanted to come back again.
How has it changed your life
So many ways. Firstly, it has taught me how to breathe and how to refocus my mind and my thoughts through my breath. Secondly, I decided to train as a yoga teacher so now I can pass on my passion and enthusiasm to others. I have never known what I wanted to do with my life and now I do. I know it sounds ridiculously corny but yoga and I found each other just at the right time.
Core Clinic in Crosby, where I began my practice. Itâ€™s still my haven and my safe place. Be Yoga in Waterloo is also so friendly and welcoming. A fabulous community.
Best yoga moment
Without a doubt learning to breathe to calm my mind. Yes, I love it when I can go deeper into a posture or finally press up into a handstand but to me the most important thing was being told I was breathing wrong and learning how to breathe properly.
Completing my teacher training and having the confidence to stand in front of 30 children and guide them through a class. And then seeing these lovely fidgety children lying still and peaceful in savasana. I tell you, it makes my heart sing.
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Sent to Coventry
The new shop putting the West Midlands on the yoga map
t’s not just London and New York where you can find all the yoga kit you need….now you can add Coventry to the list. Introducing the first yoga shop in the West Midlands - Yogamasti (yogamasti.com). Located in the heart of the city in the trendy Fargo village area, it’s a place where you can pick up beautiful Yogamasti clothing, as well as bolsters, bricks and mats. In fact, pretty much everything the yoga fanatic might need. The shop itself is inside a small container, alongside other containers, on a street called Lucky Lane. “Fargo is an up and coming village area where artists and designers alike have created studios and are working on site and selling their gear,” says Yogamasti founder Aanika Chopra. And there are plenty of exciting things going on too, including visits by leading instructors such as David Sye, the popular tattooed yogi who has become a regular face at OM yoga shows up and down the country. As well as a big launch event hosting lots of other Coventry and Leamington teachers, Chopra hopes the shop will drive interest in yoga across the West Midlands. “There are events happening here almost every weekend now: from chocolate festivals and fancy eateries to record shows and music festivals. This area is moving fast.”
AFFIRMATION? An affirmation for inner strength and self empowerment.
“I now choose to bring the storm to stillness. I am ready to dance in the puddles and create my sunshine whatever the weather. I calm the storm in my mind with ease”
Tension and angst cause dis-ease within the mind and body. Practice being in the moment: can you now let go of the pain of yesterday? Are you ready to stop allowing the past to rob you of the present? Your ‘now’ is a beautiful place to be. Trust the moment. Trust! Sometimes, the reason we find it challenging to easily recall some of the past is because we just checked out…we simply weren’t there. It was too painful. We stuffed the memory into a dark corner of the mind - until it refuses to stay stuffed down any longer. It rears its ugly head and affects our day-to-day life. It’s just a limiting belief though; just a story we can re-read or choose not to. It’s no longer happening, its over…that was then. Why allow the past to affect your present? If it didn’t bring you joy, just let it go. It can be upsetting re-living old hurts as it stirs up the emotions. Why mull over it? Let it be. Beautiful memories are stored in our hearts, but also, if we allow them, so are the not-so-beautiful ones. Fill your heart with the good stuff so that there’s no room for anything other than joy and beauty. We will all experience a certain amount of sadness in our lives, and that’s okay. It’s not always going to be plain sailing with no hiccups or upsets along the way. If we never experienced heartache we would never know joy - just don’t allow sadness to take up residence. Bitterness and resentment are not good lodgers. Know that you deserve happiness, joy and laughter in your life. Always welcome in lots of laughter.
By Deb Mac (contentedlittlesoles.com)
3 ways to lift your mood Tired and grumpy, and it’s not even Monday? Your postural habits may be to blame
here have been a number of studies done that show that posture and attitude are tightly linked. If you can strengthen your posture, you will not only look better, but you may feel better as well. “Posture is not just important in how you look; it’s also important in how you look at life,” says posture and healthy living expert Dr Steven Weiniger. “Think of all the sayings that correlate the way you look to how you feel – feeling down, eyes downcast, keep your chin up, hold your head high – your posture reflects your mood.” On a scientific level, poor posture negatively impacts your body’s natural processes, from a neurological, muscular, and hormonal point of view, Weiniger adds. “Living slumped can cause a range of problems from chronic pain and numbness from nerve compression, to gastrointestinal issues, to breathing difficulties. And, when you’re not feeling your best physically, it takes a big toll emotionally.”
1. Commute with strong posture. You may be spending upwards of four hours a day in the car, and your posture may not be helping your road rage. “Make your chair more vertical and adjust your rear view mirror a little higher, forcing you to keep your sitting posture tall while you drive,” suggests Weiniger.
So here are some quick, actionable posture tips to feel more confident and energeticright now (Hint: they don’t involve coffee!):
Dr Steven Weiniger has trained thousands of physicians and therapists in posture improvement and is the author of Stand Taller Live Longer, An Anti-Aging Strategy,
2. Move more during the day. Things like taking the stairs versus the elevator is a good start, but take an extra moment to focus on maintaining an erect posture as you go up the stairs – you may be surprised at how much better you’ll be able to breathe at the top! 3. Take a break! Stop what you’re doing at work every 3045 minutes, get out of your chair, stand tall, and focus on your alignment and breathing. During your Strong Posture break, focus on bringing your shoulders up, back and down, keeping your pelvis tucked, and head held tall and aligned over your shoulders. Then, take 5 deep belly breaths.
Yoga & Aromatherapy Lavender Oil (lavandula angustifolia)
The month of June brings us into glorious summer; lavender season gets underway and the wonderful scent and colour of the beautiful purple lavender flower fills the fields and valleys across Europe. Celebrate this by using the most versatile essential oil that we have, lavender oil, lavandula angustifolia. Lavender comes from the Latin ‘Lavare’ meaning ‘to wash’ and is the perfect oil to completely cleanse both mind and body. For a cleansing facial spritz, place a couple of drops in a spray bottle with some rose water and then spray over your face in the morning as a lovely, cleansing way to start the day. You can use the same spray to cleanse your yoga mat: spray the mat, wipe clean and the lavender oil with its antibacterial qualities will clean and deodorise your yoga space for you. Lavender essential oil is also beneficial for all three ayurvedic doshas. With its extremely soothing, calming, cooling and tranquil energy, it helps kapha and pitta doshas whilst uplifting vata dosha. Add a couple of drops to some jojoba oil for a relaxing body oil or add a couple of drops to the bath before bed to relax and help you sleep peacefully. Lavender oil is also perfect for meditation as it helps improve your ability to concentrate and reduce symptoms that can distract thought and the ability to focus. Place a couple of drops in an oil burner in your studio or room before your practice and let the lavender oil fill the room.
By Julia White (beautifulmindbeautifulbody.co.uk)
ONLINE YOGA. ANYTIME. ANYWHERE. ANY WEAR.
It’s Time to Stand Up and Stretch Out! Roll Out Your Mat in the Park or Garden and Move More l Class Starts When You Say l In the Comfort of Your Own Home or Garden l Unlimited Views of Hundreds of Videos l Handpicked Selection of the Top Teachers l Made in Britain l For Yogis, By Yogis l Classes from 2 minutes - 90 minutes l From pregnancy, to Vinyasa to Yin l Monthly or Annual Subscriptions l The Top Teachers and Studios Count You In
SPRING SALE 20% OFF Use Code OMYOGA20
Amazing spaces Stylish and inspiring studio design ideas and interiors 14 - 16 Betterton Street, London goodvibesfitness.co.uk Tucked away in the heart of trendy Covent Garden, Good Vibes is more than just a yoga studio. This is a place dedicated to the enjoyment created by positive, fun and thoughtful exercise, offering a winning combination of classes to not only make you fitter, but happier too. With yoga, Pilates and meditation throughout the day, the goal is to inspire people to exercise because it’s better for their minds as well their bodies, says founder and director, Nahid de Belgeonne. “Fitness is more than achieving an ideal body shape, it’s all about managing changes in your life while staying emotionally resilient,” she says. “You only get one body so the Good Vibes message is to respect it, live fully in it and enjoy it!” The Covent Garden studio, which also offers workshops and treatments, follows the success of Good Vibes in Fitzrovia, close to Goodge Street tube station. Both offer a diverse mix of classes and inspiring teachers with a fun, sociable atmosphere to generate positivity and joy together. “We have built Good Vibes around classes that do just that…create good vibes.”
Beautiful things for beautiful people
Weleda Jardin De Vie Fragrances - £19.95
The new Jardin de Vie fragrance range inspired by the much-loved scents of Weleda’s Pomegranate, Wild Rose and Sea Buckthorn skincare collections. Three new 50ml spray fragrances to choose from: Jardin de Vie Rose (romance), Jardin de Vie Agrume (joy) and Jardin de Vie Grenade (sensuality). weleda.co.uk
Standing Sitting Walking Running - £9.99
Standing Sitting Walking Running: How Your Posture Affects Your Mind is designed to help each of us rediscover our natural posture and so develop more calm and comfort. A great addition to any yoga library, the book shows how through simple adjustment we can develop an upright spine, on legs and feet that are active and easy, a head that is aligned and alive, and an open heart. polairpublishing.co.uk
ORGANii Strawberry Showergel - £5.95
A treat for summer, the fresh fragrance will enliven your senses and remind you of one of your favourite childhood treats…summer days with Strawberries and cream (bliss!). This scrumptious body wash leaves your skin feeling cleansed, soft and hydrated, while leaving a subtle summery aroma on the skin. organii.co.uk
The Space Within - £10.99
The Space Within: Finding Your Way Back Home is the new book by coach, author and radio host, Michael Neill. Well suited for a yoga audience, Neill claims that every problem we have in life is the result of losing our bearings and getting caught up in the content of our own thinking; the solution is to find our way back home.
om beginnings Yoga Democracy Leggings - $70
Introducing Yoga Democracy, a new line of eco-friendly and ethical yoga wear from the USA. With ethical sewing, eco-friendly dyeing and fabric sourcing, each pair of leggings represents around 12 standard size plastic bottles taken from landfill. And 10% of net profits are donated to worthy environmental causes. yogademocracy.com
Insurance for Yogis & Holistic Therapists Insurance for the individual
kikki.K Inspiration Journals - £21
Following on from the success of its flagship Covent Garden store, Swedish design and stationery brand kikki.K has now launched in Selfridges. The collection’s signature Inspiration Journals, as well as a selection of stationery from the Write Your Tomorrow Collection and Always & Forever Wedding Collection are now available from the iconic London store. kikki-k.com
Including Public Liability Insurance: Product Liability Insurance: Malpractice: Business Equipment:
£5.0M £5.0M £5.0M £5.0K
Covers you for liability claims from your patients, clients, students or other third parties for accidental death, bodily injury, illness or accidental damage to property, arising from your practicing or teaching the therapies you have asked us to insure.
Special rates on tailored home insurance for our yoga & holistic therapy clients Ghongha Plastic-Free Water Bottles - £23
A beautiful new option for the environmentally conscious water drinker. Plastic-free, BPA-free reusable water bottles that also feature a clear window so you can see how much water is left at a glance. 100% recyclable and in a range of lovely colours. ghongha.com
a t s i V a l l Be
Designed in Denmark and made in Italy, Bella Beluga clothing supports you in all the right places…yoga inspired fitness wear for real people.
Boat neck long sleeve top - blue stripes, £39.95 Classic tank top grey stripes, £29.95 Long pants Grey, £55.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Boat neck long sleeve top - grey strips, £39.95 Classic tank top grey, £29.95 Long Pants Pink, £55.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Photographer: Bartek Piotrowicz Models: Ewa, Isabel, Jane, Malene and Betina
om beginnings Boat neck long sleeve top - grey stripes, £39.95 Classic tank Charcoal, £29.95 Long pants Vino, £55.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Boat neck long sleeve top - green stripes, £39.95 Classic tank top grey stripes, £29.95 3/4 pants Grey, £49.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Longs sleeve tee - cotton, £34.95 3/4 sleeve tee - cotton, £29.95 bellabeluga.co.uk
Boat neck long sleeve top - orange strips, £39.95 Classic tank top grey, £29.95 Long Pants Black, £55.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Yoga Pants 3/4, £49.00 Tank Top, £29.95 Yoga Socks, £19.95 bellabeluga.co.uk
om beginnings Classic Tank top Vino Stripes, £29.95 bellabeluga.co.uk
Tank Top with Bra, £34.95 bellabeluga.co.uk Tank Top with Bra Grey, £34.95 bellabeluga.co.uk
3/4 Pants - Navy, £49.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
3/4 Pants - Grey, £49.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
3/4 Pants - Vino, £49.00 bellabeluga.co.uk
Planet yoga Stories from around the weird and wonderful world of yoga
Let it go
Calling all Disney princesses…now there are Frozen-themed yoga classes for you! Movie star Drew Barrymore and her 3-year-old daughter, Olive, recently attended a super cute mother-daughter yoga class with a Frozen theme. Yoga pants were optional with Olive turning up dressed as Elsa, one of the two princesses from the 2013 blockbuster film that included smash hits like Let It Go and Do You Want To Build A Snowman. Barrymore - who posted her Frozen yoga pics to Instagram - is best known for her role as the little girl in the Spielberg classic, ET, released in 1982.
The second UN International Yoga Day takes place later this month (June 21), so watch out for celebrations where you are. The brainchild of Indian PM, Narendra Modi, the event was launched last year after receiving overwhelming support from the United Nations. Yoga festivals, gatherings and charity events are planned around the world, both on the day itself and during the weekend before (June 21 falls on a Tuesday this year). The biggest UK showcase takes place in the grounds of London’s iconic Alexandra Palace on Sunday, June 19. Head there for free yoga classes all day long with some of the world’s best-loved teachers.
We are the champions
Soccer world champions Germany have again turned to yoga in their bid to secure the Euro 2016 football crown. Munich-based yoga teacher Patrick Broome (pictured) is once again part of the national team’s backroom staff for the tournament, which takes place this month in France. Germany head coach Joachim Löw is a big fan of the ancient Indian discipline, which helped his team win in Brazil in 2014, and is keen to see his players – the likes of Thomas Müller, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels – all benefit. “To my knowledge, I was the only yoga teacher working with a national team at the World Cup in Brazil,” Broome told AFP.
om beginnings Scientific research
The Indian government has received over 600 proposals from scientists and academics to conduct research under its Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM) programme. The scheme is aimed at encouraging scientific research on the effects of yoga and meditation on physical and mental health and on cognitive functioning in healthy people as well as in patients with disorders. The Ministry of Science and Technology in New Delhi will now shortlist around 25 proposals. Organisations such as the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences have submitted bids, according to secretary Ashutosh Sharma.
Anatomy & Myofascial Movement Course for Yoga Teachers A 9 WEEKEND COURSE Structural, Functional and Experiential Anatomy for Movement for Yoga Teachers
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Yoga is going from strength-to-strength in China, bringing together two of Asia’s great rivals. The China-India Yoga College, opened last year in Kunming, has drawn thousands of followers to its free classes. China’s first yoga college is based in Kunming’s Yunnan Minzu (Nationalities) University. College deputy director Lu Fang said more than 70 teachers had been trained up and nearly 3,000 people had participated in free classes. He said more Chinese people wanted to learn from Indian yoga masters. “They not only learn yoga positions, but also sutras, philosophy, culture and dining habits from the Indian tutors.”
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Love moves the world Art of Living founder and international peace ambassador Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is heading for the UK this month. Join him for an amazing mass meditation event at London’s Royal Albert Hall
his month, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living movement, arrives in the UK for a week-long tour. The creator of one of the world’s biggest charity and humanitarian organisations, Sri Sri (as he is affectionately known to millions) uses yoga and meditation to transform lives and bring about change throughout the world. This year the Art of Living Foundation celebrated its 35-year anniversary and, in recognition of his work, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan. Sri Sri has also been given the title of Yoga Shiromani (Supreme Jewel of Yoga) by India’s president. Behind it all is a message of love and peace. The Art of Living is committed to the vision of a ‘one world family’ and has already impacted the lives of over 370 million people across all continents. Charities to benefit from its courses and non-profit initiatives range from water and sanitation projects, to prison welfare, to mental health services.
Sri Sri is also active in conflict resolution promoting peace in trouble spots such as Iraq and Kosovo. He has even held a peace conference in the middle of a war zone and founded an Art of Living base and ayurvedic hospital in Erbil, Iraq, in order to bring relief to families displaced by the current war raging across the Iraq and Syria border. A belief in the goodness of people is kept in the forefront when dealing with conflict resolution. “Despite them engaging in violent acts on the outside, inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help; when the victim is healed, the culprit disappears,” he says.
Sri Sri’s expertise in yoga and meditation have underpinned all these efforts. The goal is to provide techniques and tools that help all people to live a deeper, more joyous life. Throughout his week in the UK, he will travel around the country, meeting members of the public, government
om body officials as well as business leaders, leading meditations and engaging in dialogues surrounding topics linked to many of Britain’s current challenges, such as extremism, diversity and ethics in business. In London, he will also give a parliamentary address to members of the House of Commons and House of Lords. And he will give the keynote address at the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW) in a hosted Q&A event for business leaders, to call for more ethical business practices. He say: “What is most essential today are role models. Young entrepreneurs need to see role models; industries which have ethical practices, which are fair and which have corporate social responsibilities. This can happen and in fact this should happen, for there are ample numbers of businesses that have grown steadily following a code of conduct and ethics.” The culmination of the UK visit will be a large meditation event inside the iconic Royal Albert Hall on June 19.
In the UK, Art of Living activities includes six meditation and wellbeing centres run by volunteers, plus workshops and programmes, as well as 30 free sessions offered every week. The Foundation also hosts Manage Your Mind community-facing workshops and Prison Smart courses conducted by volunteer teachers in UK prisons, as well as Breathe Smart programmes for ex-offenders and socially vulnerable groups. The latest visit continues a lifetime of high profile engagements promoting peace - and yoga - around the globe. In the past, Sri Sri has addressed UNESCO on the subject of inter-faith and cultural harmony, and has been a champion of yoga in the wider community, even at the highest levels. This includes addressing the European Parliament on the relevance of yoga for decision makers and addressing
MEDITATION 2.0 - GO DEEPER
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be visiting the UK from June 12-19, 2016 for a week-long tour. Confirmed dates so far are Manchester (June 12), Edinburgh (June 16) and London (June 19) where the week will culminate with a public event, Meditation 2.0 - Go Deeper, at the Royal Albert Hall. For further details and to book tickets please visit ommagazine.com/srisri
30,000 yogis in Times Square, New York on International Yoga Day last year. To underline this enormous reach, in March, he also celebrated 35 years of the Art of Living with a staggering 3.7 million people from 155 different countries attending the World Culture Festival in Delhi.
THE ART OF LIVING FOUNDATION
The Art of Living Foundation is a humanitarian organisation set up in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Headquartered in India, it offers educational and self-development courses to promote peace, happiness and wellbeing using yoga, meditation and practical wisdom to transform lives. Now spread over 152 countries it is considered the world’s largest volunteer-based nongovernment organisation, or NGO. The Foundation’s programmes directly help to fund its wide-ranging charity projects around the world covering issues ranging from poverty alleviation to environmental sustainability.
Easy core flow A simple vinyasa flow sequence for all levels, by Nikki Nadia
YOGA @ HOME
A free online beginner’s flow sequence focusing on the core muscles. All you need is your mat…
Upward Facing Dog
This is a powerful posture that will awaken the upper body, and also provide you with a gentle backbend.
Full Boat Pose would have extended straight legs, whereas Half Boat can be done with the knees bent. Looks simple enough but this pose will really test your core strength.
Remember to open the chest by drawing your shoulder blades down your back. Spread your fingers apart to help create a solid base.
A basic pose but so beneficial, however, if you think it looks easy, just try holding it for a short time…plank will soon help you build strength.
GET YOUR YOGA FIX AT HOME try the complete video now IT’S FREE! Visit the website: www.ommagazine.com Yoga instructor: Nikka Nadia Video sequence from: Yoga|Merge (yogamerge.com)
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Kyle Gray As a speaker and author, Scotland’s Kyle Gray is celebrated for his writings and teachings on angels and universal energy. But he’s equally passionate about yoga too and has just opened a new studio, The Zen Den, in Glasgow’s city centre
om body How did you first get into yoga I was lucky to have started a strong inner practice with meditation when I was just 14. My RE teacher at school was a Buddhist and led us on mindfulness practices. I was hooked, and this supported my spiritual growth. But, by the time I hit my 20’s, although I had an inner practice it wasn’t reflecting in my then overweight body. I decided to try yoga because I knew it would complement all the spiritual stuff, so I went to a Hatha class in a local church hall. I was the youngest student there but I loved it…and I soon had a new bunch of lady friends! What inspired you in those early days I loved yoga but I didn’t realise how much more there was to it. I really began to understand it two years later when I enrolled in Ashtanga teacher training. That’s when it all clicked into place and I went so deep into the practice that my inner practice began to reflect into my physical practice and vice versa (and more than 80lbs of unneeded weight dropped off my body in a really healthy way). Favourite teachers The best class I’ve ever been to was called Sweat, Beats and Heat with Rob Loud in Hot Yoga Pod, Denver when I was visiting for a speaking engagement. The class had incredible music being mixed by a DJ and he led us through a vigorous vinyasa where your own finesse was encouraged; I just kept dropping into Hanumanasana. I also love my teacher Brian Cooper, he really championed me in my yoga training and his support was incredible. I’m also obsessed with Ana Forrest. I’m going on a training with her this summer.
What does yoga give you personally It grounds me, it brings me back to my body and it encourages me to move beyond distraction and honour whatever is in my mind. What I have found is that when I begin to practice all the monkey chatter begins to disappear. Spiritually I have a strong practice of prayer, meditation and A Course in Miracles. I feel the physical side of yoga allows me to go deeper in the non-physical side because I have made space within me for the goodness of the universe to enter. Describe your own teaching style Although I went to Mysore and followed a traditional system of yoga I would say I am anything but traditional. I sometimes do the chants, counting and call poses in Sanskrit, but I’d say I’m playful, I talk about Beyoncé a lot, I swear too much, I like to break rules, and I like to high five people during class, especially if they surmount a fear or get a pose they’ve been working on. I’m hands on and love the touch and support yoga brings – I love to help release necks, shoulders and guide students deeper, or give comfort in poses that challenge. Yoga is fun. It’s practice not perfect. What are your plans going forward I’ve just opened my own yoga studio, The Zen Den, in Glasgow city centre. I’m pleased to be doing this and helping contribute to the community. Plans going forward include lots of travel, I’m working on my sixth book, and in the summer I’m running a retreat in Kripalu with my best friend Meggan Watterson where I’ll be leading a daily practice. Apart from that, I hope to change my car from petrol to electric and buy my own home.
“Yoga grounds me, it brings me back to my body and it encourages me to move beyond distraction and honour whatever is in my mind.”
“I’m no yoga master but what I can say is this: success for one yogi is success for all yogis!”
What do you do when you¹re not doing yoga I am a travelling speaker and writer. My subject is angels and universal energy, so I’m usually doing a talk somewhere or planning my next one. When I’m not doing any of that I love to go for brunch, lunch, coffee and anything else that involves socialising, good vibes and chill time. Any personal motto or mantra Yep, it’s this: “There is no place more safe for me to be than in my body for it is the home of my soul”. Any good yoga tips I’m no yoga master but what I can say is this: success for one yogi is success for all yogis! Remove competition and the idea that you need to protect yoga or worry if someone or another studio is doing it better. There is enough for everyone in this world and there is enough for everyone in yoga. Anything else I’d like to just share a little about angels. Angels, not in the sense of fluffy winged beings, but more these beings that are the personification of universal energy. I have this idea that angels are expressions of the creative life force, but still completely part of it. Almost like the universe or god giving itself an image or a face so that we can create a personal connection with it. A Course in Miracles says that angels are the thoughts of god - for me they are the pulses of life that are within the universe’s heartbeat. I believe when we practice yoga these angels dance around us in support of our inner connection.
Find out more about Kyle Gray at: kylegray.co.uk
THE ZEN DEN
I knew that the Glasgow yoga scene was growing but I never realised how amazing it was becoming until I went to the OM Yoga Show in April. It was incredible to see so many people come out and practice and share their good vibes. I also feel that Lululemon opening in the city with their weekly free classes has really supported the growth of the scene, and I’m so pleased to be part of it. Glasgow seems to have a structured approach to the practice with sequence-based classes like Ashtanga, Absolute and Bikram being the main focus, but I’m excited to see Vinyasa and Forrest Yoga classes growing and encouraging a more free spirited creative practitioner.
Kyle Gray’s Glasgow yoga studio, The Zen Den, is now open. Visit: zenden.org
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It’s a beautiful day Come join the yoga party at the International Yoga Day celebrations at London’s Alexandra Palace on June 19 (and the best bit is it’s free!)
he second International Yoga Day takes place later this month so expect lots of yoga celebrations up and down the country – it’s a great way to get your yoga fix for free. The initiative was endorsed by the United Nations last year to showcase the ancient spiritual discipline from India to a global audience.
“There will be four outdoor yoga spaces open throughout the day, plus a main stage, as well as meditation and other activities taking place.”
Like last year, special events are expected to take place in the UK, India and all around the world. If you’re in London on June 19, then head to the beautiful grounds of Alexandra Palace for the UK’s biggest celebration where you’ll be able to enjoy hours of free yoga and meditation hosted by some of the country’s top yoga teachers. There will be four open yoga
om body spaces throughout the day, plus a main stage, as well as meditation and other activities taking place nearby. Be sure to bring your mat if you want to take part. Well known teachers and classes in the line up include the amazing David Sye, who will be presenting his Yogabeats (yogabeats.com) classes, plus the Art of Living’s Yoga Jam (theyogajam.com), hailed as the perfect blend of sound to silence, or movement to stillness. Other classes from teachers including the Isha Foundation, Jamie Isaac, Andrea Everingham, Charlotta Martinus, Louise James, Qi Wellness, ‘Broga’ expert Matthew Miller, and laughter yoga guru Harish Chavda. Master of Ceremonies for the day will be David Olton (davidolton.com), creator of Yoga Ballet Fusion and a popular yoga presenter on television. There will be lots more on the day too, so check for updates online. If you’re really into your yoga there’s no better place to be, but the day is also a great opportunity to introduce someone new to it as well. There are plenty of classes for all experience levels, including total beginners. And that includes classes for all age groups too, so bring along friends and the family for a great (and free!) day out. Last year’s Ally Pally event was a huge success, with thousands of people – young
and old – enjoying the free all-day-long festivities and classes in the brilliant summer sunshine. As well as the actual classes, the event is a chance to find out more about yoga, generally. Learn from the experts, listen to yoga lectures, or browse some of the sponsor stalls around the grounds for inspiration. If you’re feeling hungry, there will be plenty of healthy food available to keep your energy levels up. And OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine will be there too so come along and say hello to the team. Although the formal date for the UN International Yoga Day is June 21, the London event takes place on Sunday (June 19) to enable more people to participate. Put it in the diary now: Sunday, June 19, 2016 at Alexandra Palace. It’ll be a day to remember.
#yogaalldamnday How to integrate your yoga practice into other forms of exercise. By Meg Jackson
have a confession. Sometimes I do a yoga practice purely as a physical workout. I know. Shocking. Think you can take another one? Sometimes I do other types of exercise too! Don’t worry: I will immediately roll up my yoga mat, destroy my teaching certificates and promise to never let an ‘om’ past my lips again. The reality is some days my body wants to do a full-on jumpingup-and-down chaturanga-packed handstand-tastic practice just because it feels good to move like that. Sometimes it wants to go for a bike ride, and on other days it even fancies going for a run. (Admittedly quite often it regrets that particular decision when it gets to the first hill, yet never seems to learn.)
FE YOGA I L L A E R
But, before you all hound me out of Yoga Town with burning incense sticks, let me explain. Whether it’s a way to make myself feel less of a yogic anarchist, or to appease the irked spirits of bendy people who are now departed, I’ve been working on bringing some elements of yoga into those activities which take me far away, sweaty and wheezing, from a yoga mat. It means that whilst my body might not be in an asana you can pick out of a yoga textbook, whilst I’m running I am still using, developing, investigating and improving many of the elements that will help me next time I’m fully in my happy place of a ‘traditional’ practice. And this is how I’ve been doing it.
om body Balancing the breath (pranayama)
This is a handy way to drag your mind away from those “No…no… no…I can’t go on…I have to stop… I’m dying…ooh look a cute dog… What was I thinking? Oh yeah – dying…” thoughts and channeling it somewhere useful. If your awareness is focused solely on the breath then it’s impossible for it to be anywhere else. You are officially living in the moment, my sweaty friend, so well done you. Start by noticing if the inhale and exhale are the same length. Maybe count the breath to help you begin to cultivate the ability to control it. It might be useful to match the breath to the number of strides you’re taking. If this begins to feel really uncomfortable, breathe how you need to, allow your heart rate to slow, and maybe give it another go.
Awesome awareness (svadhyaya)
One of the most important elements of creating your yogic life is to take on some serious self-studying. Understanding why you do what you do, how you do it, and whether there are better ways to go about it, can be intriguing and illuminating. I’ve been trying to do this literally when I’m out pounding the pavements with a full body scan, in my mind, as I run. Is my gaze soft? Am I holding tension in my jaw? How about my shoulders? Are my arms swinging too much? Can I feel my hip flexors firing with each stride? Do I feel like one of my legs is more dominant than the other? (Easy to spot in extreme cases because you’ll be going around in a circle!) Can I try noticing every stride; how each foot lifts, moves, lands, rolls, pushes? The good thing about this one is by the time the scan has reached my feet, my shoulders are usually up around my ears again so repetition is key.
Burning through the barriers (tapas)
Sadly not referring to a delicious plate of patatas bravas. Tapas relates to the practices and behaviours which help us get rid of the negative things holding us back on our yogic journey, and moving towards the ultimate destination of enlightenment. (Or at least getting to the first stop of ‘not being an eejit’). For me, this definitely includes the little voice in my brain which says things like “if you go that route, you’ll never get up that hill and then you’ll be a total failure and a terrible person” before I’ve even finished putting on my trainers. But it’s important to remember that to use tapas in the true yogic sense, you are not setting about to destroy yourself. The challenge is finding that perfect balance where you’re pushing
yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone to see what you can achieve, and compassionately building yourself up to be even stronger than you were before.
Be keen but kind (ahimsa)
It’s possibly the most important principle of yoga which we try and live by. Ahimsa’s meaning? Basically – cause less harm through our actions and thoughts; to ourselves and to other people. It’s an oldie but such a goodie. It is possible to be kind to yourself while challenging your preconceptions about what you’re able to do (so it is not contradictory to tapas). As with many of these things it’s all about the intention. It’s important to me that I do a little checking-in with myself every so often and take an honest look at my motives. For example, why I think I should go for a run, despite the fact that my back is sore and could do with a rest. Or why I’m gnashing my teeth in frustration at a laid-back walker temporarily slowing me down on a narrow path. Or why in my mind I am calling myself a shockingly obscene range of bullying names, just because I didn’t manage to run quite as fast as I did the day before. These activities we do are meant to be good for us, but that will only happen if we’re good to ourselves first.
Keeping it steady, strong, light and sweet – ‘Sthira Sukhan Asanam’
One of every teachers Top Five phrases from good ol’ Patanjali’s yoga sutras (probably because it’s one of the most pertinent and possibly because it’s easy to remember), this is his short-butsweet advice for what our asana practice should be. ‘Sthira’ can be translated as steady or strong, and ‘Sukh’ as light or sweet. But I think this could be applied to many things we do off the mat, especially exercise. If we can find that perfect combination of steadiness in effort, strength in movement, lightness in action, and sweetness in feeling just so darn good after it, then we’ll get to enjoy the benefits whether we’re on or off the mat. Meg Jackson is founder of Real Life Yoga – a movement to get people to bring a little (or a lot) of yoga into their real lives. Join her for Real Life Yoga Retreats in 2016. Find out more at: reallifeyoga.net
“One of the most important elements of creating your yogic life is to take on some serious self-studying.”
Daily yoga at your desk Get through the working week with these five chair-based yoga moves for the office
ou don’t need to be wearing the latest Lycra gear, or to be rolling out a mat in order to escape from work for a few minutes each day of the week. There are numerous ways you could practice yoga at your desk. However, if you’re in an office environment, then seated-chair poses are safe options, rather than using your chair for hand support whilst doing downward-facing dog, for example – just in case you end up peering upside-down through open legs at a colleague, or even at your boss (not the most professional of positions). Don’t worry, you don’t have to be doing acrobatics to benefit from this practice. Combining breath-work, visualisations, and affirmations with just one simple pose will get you feeling calm and collected, ready for whatever the working week has to throw at you. Whatever day it is, tilt your computer monitor away, switch your phone to silent, and turn your email notification off, so that you can enjoy the benefits of brief, but effective yoga at your desk.
Monday – Increase Motivation
This practice is best done when you arrive at your desk before switching on your computer, because let’s face it, some of us need motivation to do the simplest of tasks after the weekend. CHAIR MOUNTAIN releases tension, so slip your shoes off, and ground yourself by connecting all four corners of your feet to the floor. Seated-chair postures are based on standing yoga poses, and so it’s paramount to keep integrity in mountain:
with hips squared forward; knees directly in line with ankles; tummy in, while holding a neutral spine; and flattening your shoulder blades down your back. Inhale through the nose as you raise arms up until hands are level with shoulders, then take 3-5 deep breaths. Reach upwards with your fingertips, and visualise a strong shade of blue to encourage mental stimulation.
Tuesday – Instil Self-Belief
Tuesday is often anti-climactic, but you still have the whole week ahead of you, and it’s vital to believe in your abilities. CHAIR CAT-COW is great for the spine. Improving your posture instantly gives a feeling of self-confidence, and opening the chest in the cow part of the pose enhances this, as well as counteracting the hunching that desk work causes. Plant your feet on the floor, place hands on thighs, and lengthen your spine in neutral position. Inhale, and arch your back, drawing the shoulders down slightly. Exhale out of cow and flow into cat by rounding the spine, allowing your head and shoulders to naturally come forward. Repeat cat-cow 3-5 times. With each inhalation, affirm in your mind “I know I can”, and with your exhalations let go of any self-doubt. Visualise an intense yellow-coloured sphere for an added confidence boost.
om body Wednesday – Unleash Creativity
Mid-week often brings a creative block, but there is little point waiting for that great idea to emerge as if by magic – instead free your creativity with some yoga. CHAIR FORWARD FOLD stretches the spine, and reduces stress. Start in chair mountain, and with an exhalation hinge forward from the hips, taking your hands, eye gaze, and head, down towards the floor. Rest your chest on your thighs, and place your hands on the floor either side of your feet. Stay in this position for 3-5 breaths, and transport your mind away from your desk to a scenic environment; to a place where you feel at one with your inner being, with the space that allows you to create. Imagine relaxing by a waterfall, and as the water cascades, your ideas pour into your mind. Release slowly out of the pose on an inhalation.
Thursday – Hone Concentration
Thursday is exciting, mainly because tomorrow is Friday, and whilst excitement is a positive feeling, it can be distracting. SHIFTY EYES has muscle firming benefits, boosts circulation, and gives an ‘awake’ appearance. It is very important to exercise your eyes if you are working in front of a screen for long periods of time. Maintain the integrity of chair mountain, with hands resting on your thighs. Keep your head relaxed, and still. Look directly infront of you, but not at your computer screen, and move your eyes towards the right side, back to centre, then to the left side, back to centre again, look up to the ceiling, and finally look down to the floor. Close your eyes for five seconds, before repeating. Open your eyes, and widen them without creating any wrinkles on your face, taking several deep breaths, before finally lowering your eyelids again for a moment of relaxation. Shifty Eyes is from the Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method.
Friday – Improve Productivity
Regular short breaks are brilliant for injecting a speedup of task completion. It’s hugely beneficial to go for a stroll outside, but if this isn’t possible, get some fresh air near an open window and do five deep breaths, and then do this simple face exercise for a quick boost in productivity. PULLING YOUR EARS is an ancient Indian technique that increases circulation to your face, activates awareness, and decreases stress, which is exactly what we all need on a Friday. Start in chair mountain; using your thumb and index finger pull your middle earlobes out to the sides four times. Pull your lower earlobes down lightly four times, and then pull your upper earlobes upwards four times. Create circular motions to these parts of your ears too, while inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose. Add a gratitude affirmation like, “Thank Falafel it’s Friday!” Written by J P Martin. Illustrated by A E Lee
poses for a HEALTHY THYROID
Yoga postures that work together to give the thyroid the attention it needs to stay active and well. By Amy Schneider The thyroid is often referred to as the master gland. It is responsible for creating, regulating and releasing vital hormones which control many of our bodily functions, including heart rate, breathing, weight control, body temperature, cholesterol levels, and many more. With the thyroid involved in so many physiological tasks, I have created this targeted sequence in my detox yoga flow programme. Working directly to cleanse the thyroid, it will help you lead an energised, healthy, balanced life. The thyroid gland lies at the base of your neck and is a
butterfly-shaped organ that straddles the windpipe. By compressing and releasing the throat region through these yoga postures, we temporarily constrict the blood supply to the area then flood it with fresh oxygen and energy to purify and stimulate the thyroid. By practicing this routine regularly, you will experience increased energy and a natural resistance to over-eating or over-indulging in food, in addition to decreased mood swings and many other symptoms that an under-active or over-active thyroid can inflict.
This sequence has been taken from Detox Yoga with Amy Schneider, out now on DVD Available on Amazon
Seated Thyroid Compression
Sit on your heels with your spine very tall. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest. As you inhale, look forward and lengthen your spine. Repeat this motion of tucking and lifting the chin for 20 breaths. This will stimulate the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating your metabolism.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Come into downward-facing dog, lifting your sit bones towards the sky. Your hands are about shoulder-width apart or a little wider, if thatâ€™s more comfortable for you. The fingers spread wide and you ground down into the knuckles of your palms. Press your heart towards your thighs and lengthen your spine to neutral. If your hamstrings are very tight, you may need to slightly bend the knees in order to find a neutral spine. The feet are hip-width apart and the heels are pressing towards the ground. Scoop your tailbone towards the sky. Feel the entire back side of your body lengthening and opening in this posture.
High To Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Bring your body into a high push-up position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, your core engaged, your legs engaged, and your heels pressing back. Keeping the entire body tight, shift to your tippy-toes, allowing the body to shift forward and the shoulders shift over your fingertips. Bend the elbows straight back, along the side of your body. Lower halfway down and pause with the shoulders in line with the elbows. Notice that the arms make a 90-degree angle, with the wrists directly underneath the elbows. The low belly draws up and in, towards the spine. The tailbone tucks slightly towards the heels. The body is strong and muscular throughout the entire transition. The gaze is forward and the neck is neutral.
Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Press into the ground and straighten your arms, pulling your heart and hips forward and your arm bones back. Ideally, the wrists are directly underneath your shoulders. The shoulders roll back and down, away from your ears, and your shoulder blades wrap towards the spine. Points your toes straight back, press into the tops of your feet, and engage the legs. The throat is stretched. As you engage the legs, the legs lift and your only points of contact with the floor are your hands and your feet. Not only will this pose strengthen your spine, arms, wrists, and buttocks, but it will also improve your posture and stimulate the abdominal organs.
Cobra pose is a subtler backbend. In cobra pose, the legs and the belly remain grounded. The throat is tucked in. The heart lifts so that the shoulders are approximately in line with the elbows. The wrists are directly underneath the elbows. The toes are pointed and the tops of the feet are grounded. Hold for 5 breaths.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) *see pose 2 for instructions
Three-Legged Dog (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Half Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapoasana)
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Begin in a downward-facing dog position. Bring your feet together. Split your right leg in the air and lift the leg as high as you can. Engage your legs and spread your toes wide. Press your chest towards your left thigh. Keep the left heel pressing towards the ground. Keep even weight distribution in your hands. This will open your hips, strengthen your upper body, and tone your hips, butt, and thighs.
From three-legged dog, bring your right knee next to your right wrist. The right knee will land in line with your right hip. Slide your hips back, away from your right shin. With your fingertips grounded alongside you, lengthen the spine and lift the chest. Be sure your weight is centered, rather than leaning over to the left or right side. As you lift the heart, feel the left psoas muscle lengthen and stretch, gently look up lifting the throat. Hold for 5 breaths. Then bow forward and lengthen the spine and the arms. Continue to press your hips back to feel more sensation. This hip opener increases the external, or outward, rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket. Breathe here for 3-5 minutes. Then repeat on the left side.
*see pose 2 for instructions
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Come to your knees with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips with your thumbs on your sacrum. Keep your hips stacked over your knees and internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other. Engage your lower belly and tuck your tailbone toward your knees, creating space in your low back. Lift your sternum and draw your elbows and shoulder blades toward each other. Keep your core engaged. You may choose to drop your hands to the heels of your feet. Keep lifting the sternum up. It is your choice to either keep the chin tucked to your chest or drop the head back and open the throat. To exit the pose: tuck your chin, bring your hands back to your hips, your thumbs back to your sacrum, and engage your low belly as you come up slowly.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) *see pose 2 for instructions
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Stand with your left foot approximately 4 feet in front of your right foot and your feet hip-width apart. Your left (front) foot should be facing 12 oâ€™clock, while your right heel is grounded and the right foot is facing 2 oâ€™clock. As you bow your torso over your left thigh, press the left hip up and back. Continue to square the pelvis to the front of your mat as much as you can. Keep the legs engaged and your thighs hugging inward. Drop your head, tuck your chin in. Breathe for 5 breaths then relax the neck.
12 Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
Keep your legs strong and straight as you lengthen the spine. Lift the sternum up (away from the floor) and forward. You may need to bend your knees to get the spine parallel to the floor. Place your fingertips either on the floor, on blocks on the floor, or on your shins. Keep your shoulder blades hugging toward your spine and your low belly lifts up and in toward the spine. Look forward and keep the cervical long. This pose will strengthen the back and improve your posture.
Equal Standing Posture (Samasthiti)
Come to stand with your hands at prayer. Be sure your feet are parallel to each other and your weight evenly distributed in the four corners of your feet. Hug your shins toward each other and engage your thigh muscles, lifting the knee caps up. Slightly tuck your tailbone toward the ground and tuck your pubic bone toward your naval. Roll your shoulders back and down to open the chest.
YOGA THERAPY Constipation
Practical yoga therapy The Problem Constipation can affect all ages and is very techniques to start you common. Most people (especially pregnant woman and elderly people) will have on the road to health: experienced this at some point in their life. physically, mentally, Constipation is when a person struggles to empty their bowels, or are not emotionally and spiritually. completely passing a motion regularly. By Sarah Swindlehurst
There can be many reasons why this symptom occurs. Some reasons include: dehydration, not eating enough fibre via fruit and vegetables, not listening to the bodyâ€™s natural urges to go to the toilet, or medication side effects, to name a few. Making some simple lifestyle changes can help, such as moving the body and its energy more through yoga, changing your diet to a healthier one, or releasing unhealthy habits and patterns from your lifestyle.
Yoga Agni Sara
This is best done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Start standing with the feet hip distance apart. Inhale through the nose and then exhale and bend forwards pushing the air out through the mouth. Hold the breath out as you bring the body up half way. Place your hands on your thighs with the knees slightly bent (this structure supports your spine). Still holding the breath out, hollow out the abdomen by pulling it up towards the spine, then push the belly out and in as many times as you can. When you need to inhale, do so through the nose with control and stand up. Repeat three times. Affirmation: I release all blockages and live fully without fear (inhale/exhale)
Yoga Crow Squat (Malasana)
Begin with a slightly wider than hip distance and start to bend at the knees as you exhale. Squat down with the bottom just off the floor and the feet flat if possible and pointing forwards or slightly out to the side. You may need to keep the heels off the floor or roll a mat up and place it under your heels for this posture. Then bring your elbows to your inner knee area and place the palms of your hands together into a prayer position. Push your elbows out into your side knees and aim for the forearms to be parallel to the floor. Lift your chest and breathe fully. Shoulders relaxed. Hold here and breathe fully for up to eight breaths, and then release as you exhale. Affirmation: I let go and flow (inhale/exhale)
Yoga Reclining Side Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Lying on your back, with the legs out straight. Inhale and raise the right leg up and hold it with the left hand. Now as you exhale, gently guide the knee down toward the left side. Bring your right arm up to shoulder height along the floor and turn your head to the right. Hold the right leg to the left for three breaths. Then inhale and bring the leg up to centre, then exhale lower it straight down to the floor. Repeat on the left. Do this twice on each side. Affirmation: I am calm (inhale) as I release and let go (exhale)
Crow Squat (Malasana)
Start sitting in crossed legged or lotus position. Inhale through the nose normally, and then exhale whilst contracting the abdominal muscles. Focus mainly on each exhalation, and inhale without too much thought to it. Exhale for as long as you can each time. Then inhale. Repeat for three to five minutes, or up to five rounds.
Make sure you are drinking plenty throughout the day, ideally herbal teas and fresh filtered water so that you are fully hydrated. Usually the target fluid amount is 1.5 litres to 2 litres a day, though this depends on your body weight. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit so that you are getting a reasonable fibre intake. The best sources of fruit and veg fibres are: pears, apples, berries, oranges, carrots, squash, broccoli, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, beans, lentils and peas. Some great sources of protein that also contain fibre include: almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and walnuts. These fibrous grains are super too: oatmeal, whole-wheat breads, brown rice and bran.
chakra/body area, it suggests that you have issues regarding the family, security or sexual areas in your life. It could be that you are holding back and feeling stuck in a past conditioning habit or thought that is no longer helping you, or you are struggling to completely let go of a situation, or even struggling to accept the way things are in this present moment. Meditation will guide you to your answer and you can work on releasing this stuck thought/emotion/habit. Sometimes by acknowledging that it is there will help. Learning to go with the flow of life and practicing some everyday mindfulness will certainly help too. Also, starting a physical yoga practice will get all of your energy moving, even if you just do a few sun salutations each day. Sarah Swindlehurst is the founder of The Yogic Prescription (theyogicprescription.com)
What your body is saying
Constipation is a symptom. You may think this is just a bodily motion, which it partly is, however it is also due to energetic blockages (emotions, mental, spiritual) which also need to be addressed, otherwise this symptom will keep reoccurring. As this is in the lower
U is for Ustrasana. By Carole Moritz
light-bulb moment for any yoga practitioner is when the destination of a yoga practice is withdrawn. There is no striving, no goal, no competition. The magic and mystery of the journey is the destination. The camel, so adaptable and so wise, draws on its own inner resources of the hump’s fatty reserves for hydration when crossing desert sands. Yoga teaches us to draw on our inner resources to journey into our own truth. But courage is not an entity unto itself. Everything is equalised by its contrast – black is to white, up is to down, left is to right, courage balanced by vulnerability. But as humans we struggle with vulnerability. Heart openers are assailable poses, making us sitting ducks for exposing our most tender and naked selves. Ustrasana, camel pose, is symbolic for the mental, physical and spiritual stamina needed to journey through and adapt to the
extreme climates of our lives. Our heart centre stretches and exposes us to draw on our inner resources of sensitivity. Our felt senses dial up and we cross a threshold of unchartered territory in our practice with the spirit of carpe diem – cautiously optimistic. Maybe we will find an oasis in the desert sands of our practice, maybe a mirage. On and forward. But yoga doesn’t care how bendy your arch is. Yoga doesn’t even care if you never get in the pose. All yoga wants you to do is journey forth to explore your horizon. Some edges are just a little more supple in the spine, that’s all. The risk of going out on a limb is the same. In my own practice, I don’t know I especially like the idea of being broken open - anymore than I like breaking open my heart only to get my heart broken. But, as in the words of Lord Tennyson, “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” Then I roll up my mat with a braver, more gracious heart to begin anew.
OMFM OM FOR MEN
Page 53: Listening to the inner teacher Page 55: Man on the mat
LISTENING TO THE
INNER TEACHER Daniel Groom faced his fears with yoga, after a lifelong battle with anxiety and coming out as gay. Now a qualified teacher he’s helping others do the same, offering Yoga for Anxiety courses and encouraging students to listen to the voice within. Here he tells his story
he transition we all face going from adolescence to adulthood is a well-documented challenge. Research also frequently highlights that for men this transition often dictates that we leave emotion and internal wellbeing behind, as these are feminine pursuits that men need to avoid. The result of this is often that when we reach male-hood, many men are left without the skills or abilities to address their emotional needs. For myself, growing up created a huge amount of fear and self-loathing, which manifested itself as anxiety. I remember my anxiety starting when I was about 16: the feeling that I did not fit in, getting called names by school bullies; it reinforced in me the idea that I was not okay.
Instead of talking to anyone I internalised my emotions and let it eat away at my wellbeing, slowly, for years. To others, I imagine I appeared okay on the surface, but my internal dialogue was telling me “I am not good enough”… “I am letting everyone down”. As it does, life progressed; I found myself flitting from relationship to relationship, fuelled by the party scene of 90’s Manchester and London which conveniently provided me with the perfect opportunity to remove myself from any real emotions and feelings I had. I learnt as many do to keep family and friends at arms-length while I embraced my chaotic life. Then reality hit home, I found myself living in London with no money, no prospects and hating my life. My party was over! I went home to my wonderful supportive parents who thankfully could see past all the barriers I had built around me and saw that their son was in need of solace and support. My mum and I went to a yoga class. This was something we had chatted about a few times but had never managed to do – and when we did something wonderful happened. For the first time ever I felt settled. I experienced how life could feel without anxiety. I felt at peace. Determined to maintain this feeling mum and I went every Saturday to Hatha Yoga in Brentwood with a wonderful teacher who taught us asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation. We
“I started Ashtanga yoga and for seven years found the practice to be of huge benefit to me.”
encouraged my dad to join us and as a family we enjoyed this experience. However, I knew I was hanging on to anxiety and though I had moments of calm and tranquillity, yoga was helping me to find peace with myself, and made me realise I needed to let them know I was a gay man. Practicing yoga and having the joy of my parents being alongside me in this really did give me the confidence to have the conversation I had always feared. My yoga experience helped me to finally admit the truth to myself as well as my family. Yoga had given me a new unexpected ability to face my demons and to trust my heart (rather than the thoughts in my head). I had found the ability to listen to my inner teacher. My secret was out and accepted and I felt a sense of relief. However, my anxiety was still there; it had been part of me for over half my life and I knew I needed to get it under control. I knew that yoga was the way I was going to be able to tame the beast. I started Ashtanga yoga and for seven years found the practice to be of huge benefit to me. The discipline of a daily practice calmed the pent up anxious energy in my body and gave my mind a feeling of freedom which was relief after my previous chaotic and scattered lifestyle. Through the practice I gained confidence, stability, and friendship and got my life back on track.
Fast forward to 2011
I was working very successfully in the City, a homeowner, and had gained a qualification as a 200-hour yoga teacher. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with students but began to realise this life
I was living was not really fulfilling me. I still had anxiety and had a desperate fear of the future. I took some time out alone and realised again I was neglecting my inner teacher’s voice. This was trying to tell me to delve deeper into my yoga studies and start to really uncover my life’s ambitions…my dharma. I enrolled to study yoga therapy with Yoga Campus and was honoured to be taught by some of the most respected and knowledgeable teachers in the industry. My gratitude to Lisa Kaley Isley and Uma Dinsmore Tuli who have been hugely supportive in their knowledge of yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, mental health, and for their heartfelt compassion.
I realised my dharma was to work with others who have been through similar experiences to me, who are faced with anxiety/ stress and to provide a space and community to help them through these dark, lonely and often bewildering times. I quit my job and set up time for 1:1 yoga therapy clients and made it my plan to offer small classes in Brentwood and Southend, which were open to anyone of any sex, sexuality, body size and with any physical or emotional condition. I wanted to offer a space for anyone to safely experience an honest and self-reflective yoga practice. A traditional mix of asana, pranayama, relaxation, meditation. During the classes I was allowing time for self-reflection, rejoicing in the good we find and working honestly through the difficult thoughts, emotions and feelings. With an intention of encouraging students to build compassion and knowledge of their own internal
FM As the mind drifts we just come back to the movement of the abdomen. We develop simple and gentle moving asana sequences with focus on the breath, using this age old technique to help us to bring the scattered feeling of the mind back to the breath, as the student gets comfortable and the anxiety settles we start to slow down the movement finding moments of stillness. Starting in cat/ cow, move to down dog, back to cat/cow then to swan. A simple and effective Vinyasa sequence. Legs up the wall is a classic restorative posture which has a huge effect in calming the body and mind. Supporting the head and pelvis with a blanket or low pillow, use a wall/sofa or chair to raise the legs. Adopting this posture can be hugely supportive and relaxing for the autonomic nervous system. Coupled with the diaphragmatic breathing it is a sure way to calm an anxious or agitated mind. At present my life is content and filled with compassion for myself, my family, and my husband-to-be. My teaching is from the heart, warts and all. My inner teacher is happy and for the time is enjoying the fruits of its hard work. However, I now understand that when the anxiety rises, to once more listen and to take action. I hope in the future boys are taught that it’s okay to feel and have emotion and that all of us, both men and women, begin to listen to our inner teacher. For information on Daniel Groom and his Yoga for Anxiety courses visit: danielgroomyoga.com
dialogue with their inner teacher. Through movement, breath work, yoga nidra and meditation we sit and observe as a group, and as individuals, on our own life journeys. More and more people came to class and for yoga therapy. People with anxiety, depression, the stressed, those with chronic illnesses and conditions, insomniacs, those with general aches and pains, the brave following life changing events. I noticed a theme in what they wanted: some techniques they could do at home to help with managing their personal pain, fear, worry and stress. Simple stuff they could fit into their lives. I thought back to all those years ago and it made me realise that a course to help with general anxiety – which everyone experiences from time to time – would be a great experience to offer. I developed a 4 week course called ‘Yoga for Anxiety’ to do just this and to help others realise that it’s okay to experience these feelings, and to enquire as to what their anxious thoughts may relate to. My aim is to ultimately support men and women to have a toolbox of movements, breath focus and ways to observe and reflect, which may change or build an understanding of their anxiety.
During the course we look at simple ways to make a difference, including a pranayama practice called diaphragmatic breathing (abdominal breath). Lying down, feet on the floor, knees bent, hands on the abdomen, observing the gentle rhythmic flow of the inhale and exhale experienced through the movement of the body.
MAN ON THE MAT:
FM WITH ELTON PAINE
Scorpion Pose (Vrishchikasana)
This challenging pose will significantly help to improve shoulder, arm and back strength while also giving your abdominal muscles a great workout. With the increased blood flow to the brain from the inversion and being a balance, your focus and body awareness becomes more attune; it brings clarity to the mind, relieving feelings such as stress and anxiety. The arched position stretches and loosens the back, toning the spinal nerves and improves flexibility and opens the chest. The pose additionally stimulates the hair follicles in the scalp encouraging growth.
Itâ€™s very easy to allow the elbows to splay out wider than the shoulders causing the posture to feel heavy and constrictive, it also squeezes the shoulder blades together creating unwanted pressure round the back of the neck. Another common mistake is allowing the back to collapse, which carries the same risks as any unsupported back bend.
n B e patient and allow the backbend to happen naturally, progress will be quicker this way. n Breathing is key! This keeps oxygen and prana flowing around the body improving your stamina and strength. n Generate lift through the shoulders by grounding the forearms into your mat. n Practice Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand) to find that sweet balancing spot. n Practicing the posture in front of a wall will allow you to rest your feet on the wall and slowly walk them down, good for arching your back whilst balancing on your arms as this does affect the point of balance. n Donâ€™t just let your feet dangle there, reach down with your toes but pay attention not to collapse your lower back. n Smile and practice.
Photographer: Luke Ayling (woodslodgestudios.co.uk) Yogi: Elton Paine Clothing provided by: (ohmmeyoga.com)
Being a backbend and a balance it does increase the possibility of falling over into an awkward position, so stay very sensitive to the balance and work on the backbend slowly. The breath should always be comfortable and free flowing. For any of the main reasons you would not practice inversions (e.g high blood pressure and so on) it is suggested to avoid this posture or consult a medical professional first.
Find Elton on Intagram @EltonPaine
I will survive
6 tips for surviving a yoga teacher training course. By Michele Pernetta
yoga teacher training programme is one of the most rewarding, intense and life changing things you can do. Here are some tips to take with you on your journey.
Having a strong yoga practice, and practicing regularly right up until you attend the course, will help prevent injury and mean your body will not have much of an adjustment period once you start. It will allow you to concentrate on the corrections and in-depth adjustments your instructors will give you and not just on your aches and pains or lack of stamina.
So you’ve ended up on a course and realise you either have incorrect alignment, are not as fit as you thought you were or just have plain bad yoga habits! Don’t worry, you wont get thrown off the course. The instructors have seen it all before and are keen to help you. The worst thing you can do is fake it, hide it, or pretend you’re injured each time you’re called to demonstrate. Be honest. It’s okay. But if you cheat in a pose, the tutor can’t actually work with you and you wont be getting valuable knowledge that you can apply to yourself and to your future students.
3.Willingness to look at yourself
A 200- or 500-hour intensive means many weeks in close proximity to other people of all backgrounds and personalities. If you haven’t been in such a situation since college, it can be hard to adjust to. Apart from the wonderful friends you are going to make and keep for
life, there are challenges too which can bring up all sorts of hidden things in ourselves, emotionally and mentally. Allow the process to shine a light on your inner self. Intense full time courses can be far more potent as selfdevelopment tools than long term part-correspondence courses for this very reason.
4. Want to teach
A Teacher Training course is not just a yoga intensive, or a self improvement holiday. It is specifically to train you to teach and is intense. It requires discipline, committment and self-awareness. You will of course develop and grow as a person and a practitioner, but ask yourself – are you really moved to teach?
5. Clear the decks
Especially on a full time training clear your life of distractions and worry as much as possible so you have free energy and attention for the course. If you are in the process of selling your house or going through a big life change, wait until it has calmed down. Obviously life issues can just happen once we are already on a course, so be sure to tell your tutors and let them help you.
6. Holiday Romance
If you fall for someone on your course wait until after the course to do anything about it, as the distraction will probably mean you do less well on the course. You may only ever do one teacher training certification so don’t get distracted. There will be time for celebration and romance afterwards. Michele Pernetta is the creator of Fierce Grace (fiercegrace.com)
It’s been emotional
The realities of yoga teacher training
here are many stories about yoga teacher training courses. The truth is, courses vary in innumerable ways: the content and balance of the curriculum; the proportion of practical versus theory; the number of participants; the time given to yoga practice and teaching…the list is endless. To give your experience the best chance of being firmly rooted at the ‘amazing’ and ‘life-changing’ end of the spectrum, put in some work upfront: define why you want to do your training to clarify exactly what you’re looking to gain, and base your research on this criteria. But what can you really expect? Here’s what a few students have said:
“If someone was struggling it wasn’t dismissed, it was tackled with positivity and the whole group supported and encouraged them” Jo H
“A rainbow of emotions from excitement and anxiety to elation and joy” Keren G
Some courses are more confined in their curriculum, which is great if you want your training to be a more academic experience. Other courses will treat you as co-creators on a magical journey. This means profound friendships are quickly formed and a safe space for openings and breakthroughs created. At the very least expect to make new connections. Better yet, aim for life-long friendships with people who encourage you to be your best and most powerful self both during, and beyond, the course.
Yoga is, by its nature, opening, and lots of stagnant emotions will be released as you go deeper into your practice. These emotions will be magnified if your course has a transformational element. Expect to swing from ecstasy and joy to fear and sadness at a moment’s notice...but, always leaving you clearer and lighter.
“Teacher training opened me up to areas of my life which I had spent years shutting down” Aoife R
Whether it’s squeezing the training and assignments in to your busy life, studying for the first time since high school, or facing limiting beliefs that have been holding you back for decades, expect to be challenged and get a little (or a lot) uncomfortable. As the saying goes “nothing worth doing well is ever easy”, so jump in with both feet, embrace the challenges and your learnings and growth will far outweigh the effort.
Factory-style courses with large participant numbers often fail to tailor the course and cater to individual struggles or strengths. This can leave some people feeling bored whilst others feel left behind. With smaller groups, an adaptable facilitator and flexible course content, struggles can be turned in to learning opportunities and each participant’s journey feeds into the whole group.
“The relationships formed throughout the course played a big part in making it a life-changing experience” Natalie C
Have high expectations and strong criteria to guide your decisions and make your research thorough, and your experience may be more magical and life-changing than you can imagine. Be prepared to take on challenges – whether physical, mental or emotional – and you’ll be rewarded with growth. By Dylan Ayaloo and Jill Martin of Hot Power Yoga (hotpoweryoga.co.uk)
Sivananda Yoga – Yoga as a way of life
“My mission was as much as possible to reduce the negative influence on human society by positive suggestions and a positive way of life.” – Swami Vishnudevananda
Above: Swami Vishnudevananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. In 1969 he taught the first Yoga Teachers’ Training Course to be held in the West.
Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course dates London: May 28 – June 25, 2016 September 3 – October 1, 2016
Himalayas India: October 22 – November 20, 2016 25 February – 26 March 2017
France: May 18 – June 15, 2016 July 1 – 29, 2016 July 31 – August 28, 2016 November 22 – December 20, 2016
Austria: June 4 – July 2, 2016 July 30 – August 28, 2016 September 3 – October 2, 2016 December 17, 2016 – January 15, 2017
For courses in Spain, Italy, Poland and Lithuania please visit: www.sivananda.eu
International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres www.sivananda.co.uk • www.sivananda.eu
The right course for you What to look for when selecting a yoga teacher training course. By Nina Sebastiane
eciding to teach yoga is a big deal. For a start, there’s the cost (as well as books, course materials, time off work, childcare, subsistence, maybe even international travel), but there are so many other things to ponder too. What to go for? Intensive residential, somewhere hot and gorgeous overseas near a beach, or how about closer to home, a longer course over a number of weekends? Swaying palm trees may sound appealing, but perhaps the question to ask is what kind of learner are you? Are you a self starter, who can pick things up quickly and be happy to continue learning independently when you land back home. Some residential courses may offer a chance to immerse yourself in the learning experience, but what is the support like when you get back to Britain? Will there be post course mentoring? It’s worth knowing what the course offers in terms of follow up and how long that mentoring lasts. The UK accrediting bodies agree that to teach yoga you need to have completed a minimum 200-hour training. But that is the minimum advised. If it’s been a while since you did any serious study, or you feel you’re a slow and steady learner, think carefully about the length of course you select. Consider that although your certificate will allow you to teach after 200-hours – will you really be confident and capable enough to teach? Some schools offer lengthier and more paced out training options, and if the aim is to become an inspiring and confident teacher, a more in-depth approach might suit you better.
In my experience, the longer courses always deliver more rounded and confident graduates. This is because there’s more time to implement VAK learning principles properly. VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic) teaching is where the learning message is delivered in a minimum of three ways: we see it (visual), we hear it (auditory), and we feel it (muscle memory). The student has time to digest the information and quite literally learn to feel it within their own body. What is equally important as the length of time is the quality of learning: how it is delivered and reinforced through different learning modalities. So consider teacher training more as an ongoing journey rather than a beginning and an end. The trainees that consistently perform best and graduate with the strongest results are those who
don’t just tick the home study boxes and deliver the minimum but continue to learn around the set pieces. Be prepared to be constantly learning and refining your art and keep chipping away at the study. Research and my own personal experience has shown that it is far better to approach study ‘little and often’ rather than intense and sporadic.
Research the faculty
Find out about the teacher training faculty. Who are the lead trainers? What are their credentials? If you go to India and experience a traditional ashram study environment you may find that your guru will be responsible for all aspects of the training. Will you have the same teacher for anatomy, history, asanas and pranayama? You might prefer a more western approach where
each subject is covered by a dedicated expert in that field. Traditional gurus such as Iyengar, Bikram and Pattabhi Jois were the pioneering figureheads that gave birth to their schools. Love them or loathe them they were enigmatic teachers of their particular disciplines that rejected any kind of compromise to their yoga path. You may also have a very focused and clear cut view of yoga, or you may be looking for a school that is open to all teachings. This is pretty fundamental. Find out whether your school will teach yoga from more than one perspective.
“If it’s been a while since you did any serious study, or you feel you’re a slow and steady learner, think carefully about the length of course you select.” Talking about focus, every school has a particular study focus and learning priorities. Is it spiritual or physical? We had a teacher who went to a four week intensive training in India expecting a dynamic and primarily physical training experience, yet the first two weeks were spent in meditation. Be sure that your idea, and the school’s idea of the learning outcomes are the same. Every reputable school should have a published prospectus, so take time to study it. Do they offer open days to meet graduate teachers and current students? A great way to know what to expect is by talking to others who have been through it. Ask them about the day-to-day experience of the contact learning hours: Was it enjoyable? Was it challenging? How easy was it to find work at the end of it? And why did they chose the school? Check if your school is standalone or if it is accredited to any industry organisations such as Yoga Alliance Professionals or the British Wheel of Yoga. These bodies work closely with many reputable UK schools inspecting their coursework and sometimes mediating if an issue arises. Does your school operate under a code of conduct? It may seem obvious but your school needs to promise to give you a high quality, timely and professional training course. Your part of the bargain may mean you promise to attend sessions on time and be respectful of fellow students and trainers. This is just as important so that you can all learn and work in a safe, trusting and supportive environment.
As well as asking others about their choices, be candid with yourself about your motivations. Are you making changes in other areas of your life? Are you looking for something? If so what? To be fitter? Happier? Perhaps you want to begin a new chapter? It can be a time of deep circumspection and change, so be prepared for profound changes to occur. We all have very deep rooted ideas about ourselves, ones that have evolved over decades. Yoga teacher training requires you to reconsider these (sometimes) limiting beliefs about who you are. At times this can be thought provoking and emotional. As a trainer I have experienced students having very profound releases that were like peeling a layer of an onion. It’s beautiful to be a part of that shedding process and to see what is beneath. However you decide to do your training, be sure to involve friends and family. They can be the bodies to practice on and they may even start to feel the benefits for themselves. They will also begin to appreciate what you are embarking on rather than thinking you have joined a cult or are having a mid-life crisis. And once you’ve successfully completed the course and are officially a certified yoga teacher, what then? Will you go straight to teaching? Does the school offer you job opportunities, or will you set up your own classes? If so, what will you charge? Some basic calculations and a business plan can help you get a realistic idea of what is achievable. Some schools will offer advice on setting up classes as well as ethics and legislation modules. As a qualified teacher you have a responsibility to all your students to conduct yourself in a professional manner, and with integrity. Quite a lot to think about, but don’t let it daunt you or dissuade you from your goal. You have come this far already, sharing your love of yoga with others can be a divine experience for the giver as well as the receiver. Not only will it help you defy the ageing process but it promises to give you a living in years to come. The journey does not end with the training, that is just the beginning; just make sure you start your journey equipped with the knowledge and confidence to chose the best path for you. Nina Sebastiane is founder and teacher trainer at Feel Hot Yoga and FHY Teacher Training (feelhotyoga.co.uk)
Don’t hold yourself back 7 ways you could talk yourself out of a teacher training course
he thinking process of “Will I or won’t I?” happens to everyone trying to make the decision on whether to embark on a yoga teacher training course. Running it past the logical left brain, which will give you old beliefs and learned logistical patterns (often negative), and then running it past the right brain, the creative one, is like looking at something from two sides. Engaging the thinking mind, and then going beyond the thinking mind to the realms of infinite possibilities and the creative mind, can lead to a better and more balanced life changing decision.
Seven negative beliefs that can stop you making that jump... Negative belief 1 - I am not good enough
INTERNAL DIALOGUE: Everybody will be so much better than me and so much more experienced. REALITY CHECK: A good course should cater for all and make you feel reassured at the interview process. Often those with the least experience turn out to be the best and most passionate teachers.
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Negative belief 2 - I can’t do difficult postures
INTERNAL DIALOGUE: I’m frightened to be embarrassed or put in a position that my body finds too difficult and maybe hurt myself. REALITY CHECK: Yoga is for all shapes, sizes and abilities - which means teachers should be all shapes, sizes and abilities, as they inspire and attract others most like themselves.
Negative belief 3 - My life is too busy to add anything extra to it INTERNAL DIALOGUE: I can’t possibly spin any more plates, do homework and read, because I am already stressed out as it is. REALITY CHECK: Isn’t that just why you should do the course? Everyone is busy. A good course will give you the space and time for yourself that you most crave and re-charge your energy and enthusiasm. So its a win-win for everyone: you, your children and your partner.
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Negative belief 4 - People around me won’t approve
INTERNAL DIALOGUE: They will think I’m turning weird. REALITY CHECK: So what? They will be the first to ask you to teach them. Step out of your comfort zone, feel the fear and achieve the goal.
Negative belief 5 - What happens if I miss a weekend or some family event happens and I can’t attend? INTERNAL DIALOGUE: After the time and financial investment I wont get a qualification. REALITY CHECK: This happens on any course. There are always solutions to you finishing your required hours. Stuff happens!
Negative belief 6 - I can’t afford it
INTERNAL DIALOGUE: It’s an expensive commitment, can I really afford to do this? REALITY CHECK: Most good courses offer payment options and there are more funding options appearing all the time.
Negative belief 7 - It’s not worth the investment
INTERNAL DIALOGUE: It’s only a dream; I will never make it as a teacher. REALITY CHECK: How much are you willing to spend to have time developing and working on your personal, physical, mental and emotional health and feelings of wellbeing? The change first happens with you, and then change happens in the world around you. Getting rid of old belief patterns that keep us stuck is the way forward to a new future. Turn the negative thoughts into positive actions and the world is your oyster (or the world is your Kurmasana in Sanskrit!). By Julie Hanson and Sue Woodd of Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training (seasonalyoga.co.uk)
200hr YTT Intensives in Spain at Suryalila Retreat Centre 28 May – 18 June, 27 August – 17 September 15 October – 5 November www.FrogLotusYogaInternational.com Location: www.suryalila.com I Email: FrogLotusYoga@gmail.com
Should I stay or should I go?
Intensives v longer duration courses; local v overseas courses. Louise Cashin explores the pros and cons of different course types
f you are able to immerse yourself completely in the yoga lifestyle and are able to adapt quickly to ashram or community life it can be a transformational experience. The discipline, hard work, lack of sleep, restricted diet (if a true ashram then it’s usually a totally Sattvic or pure diet), mantra chanting and hours of sitting meditation all provide for an intense learning experience. This is not for everyone – each occasion I have been in this type of training environment, people have left. This is by no means a yoga vacation. You are expected to learn and submit work, perform Karma yoga duties and attend every part of the training all whilst being somewhere different. It certainly requires focus and stamina. Being away from your day-to-day life and able to completely release into yoga is a real plus point; on the downside, there’s little room for digesting what you’ve learnt nor any time to really reflect upon it and very little time to read and practice teaching. If your course is being run authentically it will be a real introduction to life as a yogi, but will it really equip you to teach back home? On the other hand, a course that is run over a number of
weekends, for example, over perhaps a year or two in your local area, may allow you time to assimilate and reflect on your learning, schedule your work load, practice teaching with friends and family (or assist in your teacher’s classes). It also enables you to remain home. But the latter point in itself can be a blessing or a problem. I know from my own teacher trainees who are on a longer duration course here in the UK that daily life, family and/or their job can get in the way of them completing assignments on time and keeping their practice going. It can be a tough juggling act. However, think: “where am I going to be teaching yoga?” Because whilst taking yourself off for an intensive can be amazing, you are more than likely going to be teaching back in your own environment with family and work commitments set to interrupt your regular practice and teaching. So, perhaps you will be better equipped to handle it if indeed you have already done so during your training? Louise Cashin runs teacher training at Yoga-Yoga (yoga-yoga.co.uk)
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Yoga teacher training course essentials
What are the key components of a great yoga teacher training programme? By Eveanna de Barra
quality teacher training course (TTC) will boast a well-rounded, robust curriculum with professional delivery of those subjects by a range of expert teachers supported by a comprehensive manual. At basic minimum, trainees should graduate with the ability to teach a mixed level class with confidence. This may sound obvious but many trainees graduate from a TTC without the ability to teach because the programmme did not allocate sufficient time to teaching practicums. A trainee should also be immersed in his or her own practice under the guidance of an established teacher. These two equally important education outcomes will support graduates in having both a successful teaching career and a connection to their own path as a yogi. When researching training options you should look for the following curriculum essentials and outcomes.
â€œA trainee should also be immersed in his or her own practice under the guidance of an established teacher.â€? 66
Yoga Teaching Practicums
These should make up a large component of your training with plenty of guidance and feedback from senior teachers and the opportunity to apply that feedback in a progressive building block style of teaching practicums. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n L earn to teach a series of asana safely, competently and with integrity. n U nderstand each asana on a pranic, physical and therapeutic level. n U nderstand how to teach a wide range of mixed abilities and ranges of capacity through variations, props and modifications.
Yoga Asana- Daily Personal Practice
A student on a TTC should be immersed in their practice daily with an established and experienced teacher. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n I mprove personal asana practice through understanding of bandhas, breath, correct alignment and use of modifications and props under the guidance of a senior teacher. n T o develop an understanding of your strengths and limitations and how you can use them as a teaching opportunity in a future classroom setting.
Asana Alignment and Adjusting Techniques
An essential part of any curriculum to help students reap the most benefits from their practice and to prevent injury and help students deepen their practice through adjusting skills. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n Understanding the principles of alignment and adjusting n Ability to provide effective adjustment, modifications, props and verbal cues to help students in developing safety, benefits and access depth in their practice.
Without an understanding of the philosophy and history of yoga we are just making shapes. This subject is essential for our teaching integrity and spiritual growth. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n A basic understanding of the roots of yoga philosophy. n A working knowledge of the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga and the Yoga Sutras.
It is essential for a teacher to understand the fundamental sequencing guidelines and also understand how to sequence towards specific needs and class objectives. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n Demonstrated understanding of the purpose and intention of sequencing. n Ability to intelligently sequence classes for their students with the goal of optimising their health and wellness.
Through the study of anatomy we keep our students safe and help them access the physical benefits of their yoga practice with ease. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n U nderstand the composition and function of the major planes, muscles, bones, ligaments and tissues relevant to yoga. n U nderstand the importance of correct skeletal alignment and movement in the role of injury prevention. n U nderstand the central nervous system, respiratory system, blood circulation, the endocrine and lymphatic systems in relation to yoga practices.
Chanting, Meditation and Pranayama
Essential for both personal practice and teaching groups and individuals with therapeutic needs and the goal of inner peace. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n Understand the contraindications, health benefits and the physical and physiological impact of these practices on the subtle and gross body. n In a practicum setting, achieve a level of competency to teach basic chanting, pranayama and meditation techniques to students.
The often ignored sister science of yoga. Ayurveda is the ancient medical science of India and should be studied, preferably with an ayurvedic physician. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n Introducing trainees to the science of ayurveda, its history as a traditional medical system, its relationship to yoga and the basic concepts of ayurveda. n Learn the techniques of basic kriyas for personal use.
It is imperative that experienced trainers highlight the issues of ethics that come with our role as a yoga teacher. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n R ecognise ethical responsibilities to maintain standards of conduct and care in the classroom. n R ecognise the universal ethical standards in regard to issues of professional conduct and teaching competence.
An important subject that helps us manage situations in our classroom with a high level of professionalism. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n A chieve a heightened awareness as to the broader and often complex scope of the teaching role over and above delivering a class. n D evelop appropriate measures to handle various situations that can arise in most yoga classroom situations.
In an extremely competitive market it is vital that trainees understand how to stand out from the crowd in a way that aligns with their values as yogis. LEARNING OUTCOMES: n U nderstand the basic principles of business as applied in a yoga setting. n D evelop an awareness of the skills necessary to thrive as a yoga business owner or freelance teacher such as social media, client experience, information management systems, marketing and client retention. A TTC is a major investment financially, emotionally and physically; therefore it is worth approaching it with the outcome of gaining a serious and valuable education. Eveanna de Barra is a writer and yogini who has spent the last eight years working on Himalaya Yoga Valleyâ€™s teacher training courses (yogagoaindia.com)
YOGA TRAINING CENTRE
‘Delivering excellence in yoga training’ www.yogatrainingcentre.co.uk DIPLOMA COURSE IN TEACHING YOGA November 2016-March 2018 Monthly weekend meetings: Central London or Stratford upon-Avon Contact Lesley or Mary for more information E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 01895 639942 E: email@example.com T: 07734 069 575
are you ready? How do you know when you’re ready for teacher training? By Sally Parkes
With Sandi Murphy& nianna Bray
& Special gueSt teacherS
FeB 6 - March 3, 2017 4 Week intenSive, QueenStoWn, nZ
The focus of our 200hr training is to provide future teachers with the knowledge of anatomy, alignment and adjustments as well as yoga philosophy, embodiment, energetics and practice. This foundation will serve as a powerful base from which to teach. Immerse yourself in the heart of the mountains and all that Queenstown has to offer. COST: $4600 early bird (before Dec1st) Save $200 - $4800 full price For more information & how to register visit
’ve been running teacher trainings for around five years now and the question I get asked most often from prospective students is nearly always to do with proficiency in their asana practice. I often find these questions challenging to answer because although there does need to be a certain capability of the asana in order to teach them well, the practice of yoga asana is such a small part of yoga. There are so many other elements to consider when thinking of becoming a teacher. In my experience you don’t need to be able to practice all yoga poses in a general 200-hour course, but there does need to be a willingness to learn and a hunger for knowledge as well as a commitment to your study. I have also noticed that the length of time a student has practiced is not as relevant as I first thought. Many people have been practicing yoga for several years, but the asana practice has not been regular and things that we can adopt in to our day-to-day lifestyle (such as improved sleep patterns and a more calming diet) have not yet infiltrated into their day-to-day life. This approach to yoga is absolutely okay and is sometimes all that life will allow; and it will certainly improve your health for the better. But if you have this kind of practice and also want to embark on teacher training, maybe now just isn’t the right time. Perhaps the practice should be about making more time for your own yoga and accepting ‘what is’ as opposed to helping others with their own practice. In contrast, there are others who may be relatively new to yoga with just a couple of years’ practice under their belt. Their desire to learn is unwavering and they are fully engaged when in class. If you
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TEACH THE YOGA YOU LOVE Tutors throughout the UK offering professional training since 1972 are this kind of student maybe now is the time to start looking to deepen your knowledge further with a course that ‘speaks’ to you when you read about it.
Know your motivation
Does your life situation support your study, or are you being unrealistic? Is the framework of your life built around very long hours building a high flying career, or a family to look after in which the spare time you have is spent feeling so tired that you cannot even read for 30 minutes before falling asleep? Or do you get home from work excited about hitting your yoga mat? And what is your actual motivation for doing the course? Are your reasons from your head or your heart? Do you see it is an easy way to fix things you are not happy with in your life? Or have you seen celebrity-like teachers out there doing amazing things on social media and think you’d like to give it a go? The first step is to be honest with yourself. Do you feel a yearning from your heart to learn the practice of yoga in order to share it with others? Do you have a willingness to commit long-term, even when life gets tough? Indeed, this can also be the time when the ‘true’ yoga happens as we have to dig deep spiritually to keep going. In my opinion this approach is what makes a great teacher and will allow your students to relate to you and feel safe in the knowledge that you understand where they are at. The key is commitment. If you are ready for and able to make that commitment then maybe you are ready to teach this amazing life system we know as yoga. Sally Parkes runs 200hr and pregnancy yoga teacher training and workshops throughout the year (sallyparkesyoga.com)
Yoga teachers as ambassadors for peace
The vision of the True World Order of Swami Vishnudevananda
n 1969, Swami Vishnudevananda, the founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and direct disciple of Swami Sivananda, inaugurated the first yoga teachers’ training course taught in the West in his ashram in Val Morin, Quebec, Canada. This was the fruit of a vision he had in 1968, after which he decided to create a peace organisation, called the True World Order (TWO). The vision of the TWO is to train such selfless leaders who will be interested in humanity as a whole. They will embrace a yogic life and serve as living examples of the integration of body, mind and spirit. They will have self-discipline and be ready to sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of serving humanity. The teachers’ training course created by Swami Vishnudevananda aims at an integral practice of yogic techniques to develop a strong and healthy body, a calm and positive mind, and an intuitive understanding of our true nature as well as the cosmic laws underlying the universe. The intensive practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation combined with the study of Vedanta philosophy gives clarity, strength and focus to the mind. Without this integral approach, it is very difficult to control one’s emotions and become selfless in thought and action.
Principles for the training of yoga teachers as ambassadors for peace: Reshape your individual life by incorporating an integral practice of yoga into it. Assist in efforts to train leaders by making them aware of the value and power of yogic disciplines. Assist in the development of training centres to create physical and mental health and develop intuition through yogic practices and meditation. Promote an education based upon self-discipline and mastery over one’s own mind rather than competition. Develop an understanding of the human mind and help educate people in how to control their mind.
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Can this vision come true? Swami Vishnudevananda’s answer was that nothing is impossible if you have faith in yourself. All great movements have been started by a handful of visionary people. Success is possible if we believe in our hidden powers. If we are willing to practice self-discipline and selfless service through yogic discipline, it is possible to build together a better, greater self and a better, greater world of peace and understanding.
Discover more about the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres at: sivananda.org
Claire Weatherley Yoga School provides: 200HR TEACHER TRAINING workshops, CPDâ€™s, retreats & classes. Claire Weatherley Yoga School also provides an online yoga community: www.onlineyogacommunity.com
Claire@claireweatherleyyoga.com 07989 533 431 Please see website for classes and workshops. RYS 200 Teacher Training. Small groups, 9 months training, expert tutors, study & practice with all level of yoga students (not just teacher trainers), this is essential for teaching experience once qualiďŹ ed. Monthly payment plan available. Start anytime. Further CPD provided.
‘The perfect way to discover your true voice. And you don’t need to be able to sing!’ S.P. Yoga teacher, Chester
Yoga, Sound & Mantra Retreat 12-14 August Includes walks in Snowdonia National Park and time to relax with therapies.
The Yoga of Sound Course starts 7-10 October Includes 4 x residential four-day modules over 16 months > Gain confidence in communication > Discover the power of your voice > Mantra and kirtan > Introduction to Indian classical music
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What to do before the course to prepare yourself. By Ed Wood
eacher training can have a profound impact on your life, in ways you might never have imagined. Really there’s no way to prepare when life comes calling and suddenly offers everything you ever wanted, in exchange for your hard work and loving devotion to yoga. But we can lay the groundwork, so that yoga’s transformative power has a stable base in which to build a new future. Prepare mentally by working through your course prerequisites. Let your questions form. If possible, speak to the course leader about them. Go to some classes and be sure you click with how information is delivered. Make sure you feel the practices are biomechanically sound, and the teachers really do understand human bodies. Prepare yourself emotionally by reflecting on courage: how will you feel if some of your deepest-held yoga beliefs turn out to be inaccurate? The bottom can fall out of one’s entire yoga framework when the full depths of self-transformation are glimpsed. And on a more practical level, sadly, some courses
aren’t very good. Can you cut ties and try again elsewhere if necessary? Spiritual preparation depends on how you feel about spirituality. But regardless of whether you have no interest at all or an established spiritual practice, you’re about to go deeper into yourself than ever before. Are you ready to feel your own heart overflow – perhaps for the first time – and realise it has always done that, even when you felt most alone? At that point it no longer matters if there are gods, God or ‘nothing up there’ at all. The investment in your course is much more than the price you pay and the time spent on assignments. It’s a personal investment in yourself; it’s your personal evolution and that will require all sorts of resources. When you’re ready to make that commitment to yourself, and how you help the world around you, then you’re ready to live your fullest life. In my experience, that moment starts when you download the application form – and never, ever ends. Ed Wood is the owner of Yogafurie (yogafurie.com)
11 steps to being a great yoga teacher Simple steps to being the best teacher you can be. By Claire Weatherley
now that you as the teacher arenâ€™t really a teacher. You are an expression or channel of the Divine sharing the practice of yoga with anyone that wants to practice. Know that the Divine will allow you to be a great yoga teacher if you allow yourself to be loved and guided by Divinity itself!
Have a strong personal yoga practice. We can only truly work on ourselves
Be the change you want to see in the world, being and living yoga in the modern world as best you can
Know it is about the people that turn up to your class that are the most important and you are there to help them nourish themselves through the practice of yoga
Develop the ability to build rapport and relationships with people from all walks of life and all ages
Create a safe environment for students physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually
Create an experience for each student as if they are the only person in the class
Develop the ability to assess whether a student needs to be challenged or ease back
Share what you know. We own nothing. It is given to us to pass on
Yoga is available to all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and language. It is universal
Have a self-deprecating sense of humour. Laugh a lot with your students Discover more about Claire@www.onlineyogacommunity.com
Photo: Matt Weekes & Charlie Reynolds, Yokan (yokan.co.uk) Model: Alex Taylor
Tips from a teacher So you’ve been accepted onto teacher training. Well done! But what can you expect from this new adventure? Graham Burns shares a few tips:
Be willing to unlearn: as a trainee teacher, you will have been practicing yoga for a while. But your teachers might have new and interesting ideas. Leave your pre-conceptions behind, and be open to the range of possibilities yoga offers. Keep asking ‘why’?: there will be times when your students will ask ‘why do we do….?’. ‘That’s how I was taught’ is rarely a helpful answer: your teacher training is a unique opportunity to explore the whys of yoga – use it!
Remember why you are there: you have signed up to learn to teach. In the process, you will undoubtedly learn things to deepen your own practice, but focus on learning to teach. There are plenty of other workshops which will offer you complex pranayamas or profound meditations, but it is unlikely that you will be teaching those from day 1.
Practice, practice: don’t let your training take over your practice. You know the benefits of regular practice – continue to enjoy them for yourself. Students can spot a teacher who doesn’t ‘walk the walk’ a mile off. Let your practice inform your teaching: but don’t use it as teaching preparation.
Don’t panic!: you know that you are going to love every minute of the course. Then the whole thing becomes overwhelming, and you think you will never make a teacher after all. When the challenges arise, accept them. Speak to your teachers: chances are they went through the same thing, and look at them now.
Have a buddy: have a yoga buddy – someone on the course, or someone who has trained recently, to whom you can turn in moments of uncertainty – and with whom you can share the moments of triumph which will also occur. Do the work: training as a yoga teacher is a serious undertaking. Give yourself time to do the course reading and homework, don’t leave them until the last minute. Don’t read everything at once: break it down into manageable chunks. And don’t feel that you have to remember everything.
Read widely: you will no doubt have a reading list – but dip into other sources. And even if your course only recommends one translation of a yoga text, take your time to read at least two and explore the differences.
No-one is always right: even the most experienced teachers don’t know everything about everything. Accept your teachers’ imperfections as you would like your students to accept yours.
A year of self discovery A year of self discovery
This course is for everyone, whether you wish to teach yoga or simply go deeper on your yoga journey. This course is for everyone, whether you wish to teach yoga or simply goThe deeper on your yoga journey. teachers:
Julie Hanson, Sue TheWoodd, teachers: Marit Akintewe JulieTheHanson, Sue Woodd, Marit Akintewe Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training programme offers 2 options for training: The Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training programme offers 2 200 options for training: hour teacher programme, 12 modules over 1 year
teacher programme, modules over 1 year 30012hour advanced teacher assistantship programme over 12 modules 300 hour advanced teacher assistantship programme over 12 modules
Glasgow - Jan & May 2017, 200 & 300 hour Glasgow - Jan- Spring & May 2017, 300 hour London 2017 -200 200&hour London - Spring 20172016 - 200- hour Bonn, Germany - Autumn 200 hour Bonn, Germany Autumn 2016 Helsinki, Finland - Autumn 2016 -200 200hour hour Helsinki, Finland- Jan - Autumn 200 hour Liverpool 2017 -2016 200 -hour Liverpool 2017 - 200 hour Cadiz, Spain - Jan Winter 2016 - 200 hour Cadiz, Spain Winter 2016 200 hour For full course details, timetables and costs, or to download our colour brochure please visit: For full course details, timetables and costs, or to download our colour brochure please visit:
www.seasonalyoga.co.uk www.seasonalyoga.co.uk Testimonial I have loved this course and would do it all again in a heartbeat. Testimonial The teachers are so knowledgeable and brilliant at bringing out the I have loved this course and would do it all again in a heartbeat. best in you. The posture workshops, lectures, food!, all exceptional. The teachers are so knowledgeable and brilliant at bringing out the It’s been a privilege to be part of the group. best in you. The posture workshops, lectures, food!, all exceptional. Johnstonto(Glasgow It’s Valerie been a privilege be part of Group) the group. Valerie Johnston (Glasgow Group) Affiliate studios? We are looking for affiliate studios in Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds, studios? to extend Affiliate our Seasonal Yoga family. WeIf are for affiliate studios in Manchester, and Leeds, youlooking would like info on this please contact us atNewcastle the options below. to extend our Seasonal Yoga family. If you would like info on this please contact us at the options below.
Enjoy the ride: there will be times when it will feel smooth, and times when it will feel like a roller-coaster – but always remember that your course teachers want you to pass and to emerge as a safe and creative teacher true to yourself. Graham Burns is a board member, teacher and contact teacher on the Yogacampus Teacher Training Diploma (yogacampus.com)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Email:www.seasonalyoga.co.uk email@example.com or phone 07966 875208 www.seasonalyoga.co.uk or phone 07966 875208
The inner journey
Meera Watts explores the student’s teacher training experience
hen people hear the words ‘200 hours’, they usually respond with shocked expressions and ask, ‘200 hours? That’s a lot of hours!’ It sure sounds like it, but halfway through the course, many always wonder where the time went and why the course had to end so soon. There is a lot that happens in that duration, not only externally, but within you too. There will be many ‘a-ha!’ moments – moments where you will go ‘now why didn’t I think of that before?’ or ‘that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking!’ During a teacher training course, you will learn how to fine-tune your asana practice. Even a well-seasoned yogi may find they have been doing a certain pose the wrong way all this time. Learning how to execute poses according to proper anatomical principles is definitely different from blindly mimicking movements. With this newfound knowledge, your asana practice will be taken to a whole different level, where much mental and bodily awareness is needed. You will start to notice things more, and maybe even come to realise you were not as flexible or strong as you thought you were. The subject of anatomy and physiology not only enhances our personal practice, it also deepens our understanding of asanas, where we can more fully appreciate them for their physical and energetic benefits. There will also be daily philosophy sessions where the Yoga Sutras
are discussed. The Yoga Sutras are a guide to living a meaningful and purposeful life. As you are introduced to the concepts of the Yoga Sutras, you will start to question your life and everything that has led up to this point. Guilt, remorse, sadness and many more emotions which have been unknowingly repressed, will emerge. It is normal. In fact, this is a very good thing, because before any healing or positive transformation can happen, one must first identify the things that went wrong and what needs to be changed. Your teachers and course mates will be there to offer you guidance and support. Be present for them too when they need it. Most of your waking hours will be spent interacting with others. You will be witnessing each other’s growth and transformation, as well as learning about yourselves through introspection and listening to the journeys of others. Often, lifelong friendships are formed here. Throughout the course, meditation techniques will also be taught. Yoga is not always a serious practice, it is also a celebration of life. Meditation is a way to bring you back into the present, so that you can be fully present in the moment and therefore enjoy your life. After immersing yourself in a teacher training course, you will emerge with a new perspective on life. After diving deep within yourself, you will have a newfound acceptance towards yourself and everyone else around you. It is a very beautiful and life-changing experience. By Meera Watts (siddhiyoga.com)
W 6! O 1 N 20 G R N E NE TI B LI UI EM N CR PT K O RE SE O R O FO B
Bliss Teacher Training Academy The only 200 hour Yoga Alliance UK Accredited teacher training in the West Midlands with Michelle Nicklin SYT & Ambra Vallo WHAT OUR CURRENT STUDENTS SAY: “The teacher training programme has been amazing – I’m really looking forward to the next weekend.” - Lis I have done teacher training courses before but none that really equip me to teach. I already feel I just can’t wait to lead a class. All my fears have gone.” - JK “Spending whole weekends with like-minded people immersed in all things yoga is a dream come true. I can’t wait to pass on what I have learned.” - Kelly
Discover Teacher Training Event Saturday 11 June 2016 11am - 1.30pm Make a Financial Success of Your Yoga Career: Anything is Possible! – 8 hours CPD event Saturday 12 November 9.30am - 6pm Bliss Yoga is a friendly, welcoming and authentic yoga company which has studios in Aldridge and Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. We run retreats in Oxfordshire & Andalucia, as well as workshops and our ever-popular Yoga Foundations Course.
200hr Yoga Teacher Training with Sally Parkes BSc
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Course includes: • Yoga Asana • Anatomy & Physiology • Subtle Anatomy • Yoga Philosophy • The basics of Ayurveda • Teaching methods & ethics • The business of Yoga • Home study & self-practice Price: £2770
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Spiritual calling 5 steps to lead a great kirtan. By Nikki Slade
I have been leading kirtan for 25 years and I have been defining and researching in my own journey what it takes to be a great teacher.
These are my 5 essential steps:
The most important aspect is your devotion to your inner self, whichever form that takes. The moment you lead you are an instrument for the transmission of supreme universal love. Therefore, to lead kirtan powerfully, you have to be transparent. You need to surrender your ego personality to allow a greater universal energy to flow through you by letting go of notions such as ‘I am the singer’ or ‘I am the creator of this vibration’. Kirtan ultimately is about allowing the chant to flow through you. It is vital therefore before leading to clear your channel by chanting mantras to invoke grace and blessings. Then people can receive transmission of the highest energy rather than your personality state.
An ability to lead a simple vocal melody line and to play a basic melody on the harmonium or at least to sustain a drone. Develop a foundation in understanding basic kirtan tabla rhythms (even if you don’t play the drums), that you can guide your drummer through speed changes. Each kirtan builds in rhythm over several minutes so it’s important not to lead all at one volume and to learn how to vary the dynamics.
To be able to project your voice into the space to uplift the group. It’s important to develop an open voice so your vocal technique enhances the flow.
It’s also important to be able to follow the ‘shakti’ or divine inner energy, to intuitively know which chant is appropriate for the sangham, or group, in that moment. There are multiple deities and ragas, or moods, to choose from and you need to be able to judge the overall state of the participants at the start of each kirtan to facilitate a more uplifting or contemplative journey as required.
Finally, it’s important to be a leader who channels universal love and allows the group to experience a state of oneness during the kirtan so that they are touched, moved and inspired to carry that higher vibration into their daily lives. Nikki Slade is facilitating the first UK accredited 200hr kirtan leadership training this autumn. Visit: nikkislade.com
AdityA yogA School RyS200 & RyS500 FOUNDATION & ADVANCED VINYASA FLOW TEACHER TRAINING with AlESSANdRA PEcoREllA, Syt
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200hrs Nov to June 300hrs ongoing Elements of Classical and Modern Yoga, devotional and scientific approach all come together in this course to offer you a highly Elements of Classical and Modern Yoga, experiential, cutting edge program. devotional and scientific approach all come together thisIntegrate course to the offerfull you spectrum a highly Learn howin to experiential, cutting edge program. of ancient techniques of Yoga into our contemporary living. Learn how to Integrate the full spectrum
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environment as a way ofstudy Enjoystimulating a fantastic Sangha (teaching Expressing your Creative Self.of fellow community), the support network Yogis and Mentors. For dates and fees please Enjoy a fantastic study checkSangha online(teaching at: community), the support network of fellow Yogis and Mentors. www.adityayogaschool.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org www.AdityAyogASchool.co.uk AlESSANdRA@AdityAyogASchool.co.uk
Student survival guide
Take heart, have courage…and sail through your course
ne of the first things I tell my students when they come for their first day is “this is not a yoga retreat”. There’s a reality check after the first week when students realise teaching is not the same as coming to a class as a regular student. It can be a shock and hard for some to come to terms with. However, we settle them in and support them, and in the end it is all so worthwhile. Physically it can be demanding too, as student teachers need to build up strength and stamina. This is for their own good, though, as teaching soon builds up from one class to many. Standing up and talking to a class is often the most difficult part; often students have not thought of that aspect. Learning to plan a class is essential and should follow the format of a training course, as this helps students see the results in action. We should always teach theory and philosophy as yoga is not only about postures but the lifestyle and theory behind this ancient technique. Breathing, and how to teach it, is also core, as learning to breathe is simple – and yet the results and benefits for the student (and their own future students) is profound. I tell my students that if they thought they were there just to achieve a qualification then they have missed the point. They will also be changing their practice, their life and their minds. It is an opportunity to transform themselves…. being a teacher is almost a by-product. Anything that can happen will do so during the course so
a student can get overwhelmed with emotion and physical tiredness. It’s all so new and tough but with help from the teaching faculty and the other students it’s soon such a wonderful time too - and fun. My first job is to teach my students how to learn…the rest will come. Those with dyslexia, for instance, should get the support they need. For some, this is the first time ever they have gained a qualification as they may have struggled at school. It’s so good to see people achieve their dream. Things to help on the course: 1. Sleep well. 2. Use your yoga for getting through it. 3. Don’t stress about the small things, ask for help. 4. Take the work seriously not yourselves. 5. Have fun and make the best friends ever. Take on board that yoga is about real life; it’s not a dry textbook, so integrate it in all you do. Being a teacher is really about how you handle your own life. It can be a lifeline as much for the teacher as the student. If you are having a tough time, going to teach your 90-minute class allows you too to switch off. What a wonderful life it is to teach. By Anne-Marie Newland, founder and director of Sun Power Yoga Teacher Training (sun-power-yoga.co.uk)
Trust the process
Dealing with your own mental and emotional baggage
oga teacher trainings can be intense. Yogic practices aim to move through and beyond the mental and emotional baggage that inhibits people from experiencing their deeper core nature. This is why you may find yourself crying on the way home from back-bending class or angry with yourself or others after a strong inversion class. Our body houses our emotional energy and as we practice, unresolved emotions and traumas can surface. Then add this to the pressure of a course, where the intensity of the asana increases, when students have to learn new anatomy and Sanskrit vocabulary, undergo assessments and possibly share accommodation with strangers - all under a time limit for a certificate. Well, it can be like putting all of your ‘stuff’ into a pressure cooker. Don’t be surprised if it starts to boil over at some point. The first step to coping with your emotional baggage is owning it. When you can take responsibility for your emotions, you’re then in a position to transform and heal them. Hopefully your teacher will also address this issue to the group at the beginning of the course. If you find yourself completely emotionally overwhelmed, in addition to seeking
assistance, my advice is to try to trust the process. Sometimes when we are experiencing unresolved trauma, it can feel like falling down a dark rabbit hole. In this place, our emotions can feel more permanent than they actually are. We can forget that ‘this too shall pass’ and lose perspective. This is an example of what yoga calls avidya, the illusion between what is temporary and permanent and the over identification with emotions which are temporary in nature. When we feel bad, that does not mean that we are ‘bad people’, but sometimes in our despair we convince ourselves we are what we feel. We judge and condemn ourselves and limit our growth with fear-based beliefs that are known in yoga as the samskaras. This is just a phase of practice. When yoga reveals love and light as the true nature of our being, we see that we carry scars, but we are not our scars. Our practice gains new depth. It offers us connection with the part of us free from wound and trauma and reinforces wellbeing and ease in our nervous system patterning. If feeling despair, trust that the darkest hour is before the dawn and soon you will be flowing, content in your being once again. Carol Murphy is the director of Green Lotus Yoga (greenlotusyoga.com)
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Fierce Grace transcends the separation between yoga styles and the revolutionary 6 class system ignites and balances every age, body-type and level. We are one of the UKâ€™s leading yoga brands having introduced hot yoga to the UK and we boast one of the most senior training teams in Europe. You will learn over 65 poses that cross all yoga systems and be equipped to teach 2 motivating multi-style classes. Fierce Grace is now available in more than 20 studios worldwide and our 6 London studios have taught over half a million people. We have at our helm Michele Pernetta whose influence and experience make her one of Europeâ€™s yoga leaders. She has dedicated the Hothouse Yoga Academy to this program so graduates can find their voice teaching the public in a real studio environment.
Start your yoga journey with the originators of hot yoga in the UK. Grow with us, open your own Fierce Grace studio or work within our growing community.
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Back to school
Getting to grips with the academic aspects of your course. By Dawn Morse
ome students worry about the academic aspects of a teacher training programme, such as keeping up with the recommended reading. This may be due to confidence, time constraints or having left school or study years earlier. The following tips can help when returning to study:
Schedule time for reading Reading your training manual prior to starting the course will provide you with an understanding of the topics that will be covered throughout the training process. Review the reading list and aim to spend a little time studying each day as this will help you to get into a new routine. Share your goals with family and friends Sharing your goals with family and friends will enable them to provide you with support and encouragement. Let them know when your assessment deadlines are so that they can help out in practice sessions and of course help you celebrate when you have passed your assessments. Arrive at training sessions on time and prepared Tutors have to cover a lot of information during teacher training sessions, therefore arriving on time will help to keep the day on track. Reading up on the daily topic will help you to get the most out of the day as it will provide the opportunity to put theory into context. Writing notes during the session will prove to be a valuable revision tool later on within the course. Questions are welcome If you are unsure about something being discussed, make sure that you take the time to ask the tutor as it’s unlikely that you are the only person to have questions. Most tutors welcome questions
during discussion time and will often make time available at the end of the day. It’s fine to make mistakes You are on a yoga teacher training course to learn how to become an effective and inspirational yoga teacher. Therefore tutors are not expecting you to already be an expert. It’s fine to make mistakes during practical tasks and to get a question wrong. We all learn by making mistakes. The most important thing is that we learn from the experience. Therefore remember not to feel judged if this happens during your learning journey. Use mneumonics and highlight text Mneumonics are a great way to remember key points or sequences when planning a teaching session. Using colour when highlighting key points and using spider diagrams can also help you to revise. Plan your essay Starting an essay can be a daunting task, therefore take the time to plan your essay. Use the essay guide to identify the key points that need to be included within the main section, introduction and conclusion. Remember to refer back to the essay guide after planning to ensure that you haven’t moved away from the essay aim. Practice for assessments Schedule in revision time for any theory and practical assessments as this will help you to be prepared and to achieve your goals. Family and friends are a good source to use when practicing your teaching skills. By Dawn Morse of Core Elements which provides yoga CPD courses and massage therapy training (coreelements.uk.com)
Learn To Lead Kirtan Training with Nikki Slade & Guest teachers Christopher Hareesh Wallis (scholar of Sanskrit, Yogic and Tantrik traditions), Katy Appleton (Appleyoga. Yoga for Voice) and Tom Simenauer (Tabla studies).
Autumn 2016 200 hrs. London training: 12th September â€“ 6th November Over the course of our 21 days together, you will be empowered to skillfully lead Kirtan at a foundation level in a multitude of contexts ranging from yoga classes to team building and bespoke special events. This training is a distillation of 28 years of her devotional chanting practice as well as her roots in a solid devotional Bhakti Yoga path. Her extensive experience and knowledge in the practice creates a fun, natural and easeful environment in which to learn. A Yoga Alliance Professionals accredited teacher training This London based course provides everything you need to effectively lead an inspiring Kirtan session. It will also equip you with first class knowledge taught by a Sanskrit scholar and you will leave with vocal and musical skills and strong devotional leadership training. For more details visit:
Getting Class confident
How to boost confidence in newly qualified teachers. By Charlotta Martinus
tudents are attracted to a teacher training course (TTC) for many different reasons. Most of my students have been attracted to the Universal Yoga TTC because they want to understand more about yoga and deepen their knowledge as well as find out more about themselves; their body, their mind and their spirit, through direct experience.
A TTC often gives permission to the student to simply spend more time doing yoga. We always start with an enquiry into the intention: in our last TTC only a few of the students actually intended to teach at the end of the course. However, almost seven months later and we are coming to the end of the course where everyone has to practice teaching. Now,
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they want to teach. Some of them are naturals, others, however, are struck by a paralysing performance anxiety which we try to help them overcome. Luckily, the very philosophy which we have embodied through the course seems to help. The concepts from Vedanta, such as ‘action in inaction and inaction in action’ from the Bhagavad Gita – which means to many that we are here on the earth to perform certain tasks and we simply need the universe or god or energy to flow through us in order for us to perform our dharma well. When we displace our ego and allow for this to happen, pride and shyness drop away as we associate ourselves with a greater force. Simon Haas’ wonderful book ‘Dharma’ (which is one of our set texts) gives us a great insight in this process too. Shyness and pride are the two sides of the same coin we call ego. When we are able to discriminate between ego-motivated desires and the call to act in order to alleviate suffering and to serve the greater good in society, it allows us to flow freely like a child, without self-consciousness.
Where yogis become powerful teachers Discover the secret to being an outstanding yoga teacher with Dylan Ayaloo
How is this done?
n G o and watch others teach, write a list of things you liked and things you didn’t n O bserve 10 very different classes (this means not taking part at all) n A ssist a few classes (maybe five). Go with a favourite teacher and ask him/her if you can teach part of their class, or assist in the postures while the teacher is speaking n T each a group of friends at home, maybe only three or four n P ractice voice exercises in large spaces, try making your voice soft in a large space, try different tones and volume n W rite out key words you would like to use in your class in your lesson plan n W rite a longer lesson plan than you need n I f you are not confident in describing postures, do them with the students, so you can explain how the body moves in the posture n D on’t adjust the students until you feel confident n T ake your time, don’t rush into teaching your first ‘professional’ class, where you are being paid. n T each a few community classes for very little n W hen you feel ready, the students will come to you n A lways remember everything you do is service If all else fails, your TTC has been a wonderful tool to deepen your practice and become a better person Charlotta Martinus has been training teachers since 2004 and runs the Universal Yoga Teacher Training Course based in Bath (universalyoga.co.uk). She also runs teenyoga.com
“I honestly think this is the best training in London. I know a lot of yoga teachers in a lot of studios and you notice a difference with HPY teachers – the energy, direction and connection they have with their students is second to none. The facilitation at HPY is absolutely world class.” – Andy Black
3-Day Intensive Foundation 200Hr Teacher Training Hands on Assisting Mentorship
07872 122 842 www.hotpoweryoga.co.uk email@example.com
A way of life
Integrating your yoga teacher training into your everyday life. By Bryony Duckitt
hen we first begin yoga, the mat is our world. The more immersed we become in that journey, the more we start to live it, and the world gradually becomes our mat. Making that transition to truly living your yoga is especially important when you are teaching it to others. When we teach yoga to children, we bring a lot more into the classroom than just the yoga poses. Along with the mooing cows and barking downward dogs, the body benefits of these poses, the mindfulness and the awareness of the breath, it is imperative too that we focus on incorporating the Niyamas and Yamas. These do’s and don’ts are the vital roots and trunk of the yoga tree of life… the very foundations of yoga. By making all aspects of the eightfold path accessible and meaningful to children, we are giving them the tools to live a balanced life – on a social, emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual level. We encourage teachers to always ‘practice what they teach.’ The only way to teach and share the benefits of the eightfold path is to integrate them into our own lives so that students can observe these and indeed absorb them. It is helpful to remember that yoga philosophy is based on the idea that everything is interconnected. The body is connected to the mind and spirit. Every person is connected
to their surroundings. What we do directly affects everyone, and everything else. As yoga teachers we are familiar with this concept – but it’s one thing to know it, to teach it and then in fact to live by it. By focusing on our bodies and our senses as we go about our daily lives, we can change the way we affect the world and in turn how the world affects us. If you commit to a daily practice of sorts, yoga (and its many benefits) will begin to shift from your mat to your world. As you continue to read and learn more about yoga, keep up your practice of asanas and meditation, try to be mindful in everything you do. Rather than wolfing down your food before you move on to your next task, take the time to enjoy it, really tasting every bite. Instead of hurrying along with your head down, absorb your surroundings as you walk, notice and appreciate the people around you. Stop and breathe before you react. Let go and cultivate an awareness of the chitter chatter of the mind. By making a conscious effort to be completely present in each moment of your day, you will bring the patience, compassion and kindness that you cultivate on your mat into your everyday life and into the lives of those around you. Bryony Duckett is the founder of YogaBeez and run children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher trainings in London and Nottingham (yogabeez.com)
You’ve got the style
Finding your own voice and developing a personal teaching style
ooray! You’ve got your 200-hour qualification under your belt. It’s official! You are a yoga teacher! You even have a busy class of clients waiting to practice with you. Thing is, you’re thinking, do I actually sound like a yoga teacher? Will my voice wobble? Won’t they know I have just qualified? How do I verbalise my yoga? Fear not, you are not alone. In fact, despite practicing for many years I felt exactly the same when I received my first qualification too. The reassuring news is yes, you can do it! As a yoga teacher trainer I have witnessed the most amazing personal and professional transformation that takes place when a teacher finds that inner confidence; when the light comes on inside and then their classes start to fill. They find their yoga voice and they never look back.
Here are a few tips to guide you:
Am I really comfortable teaching this in this way? Practice the class you are taking before you lead it. Understand the transitions and timings. Once this class is imprinted on your brain you can then begin to play around with different styles. The pressure is off once you know the content.
Are there different ways of teaching I am not exploring? Explore the many ways you can get a class into and out of a pose. Explore the ways you can work with modifications and add-ons once in a pose to turn the heat up or down. When you realise the verbal cues you give can change the most basic of poses and your clients’ experiences then your inner voice will really resonate. Do not be afraid. Play. Have fun.
As a student what style do I like? Find whose style resonates with you. This will probably be dictated by the type of yoga you do too. It is not necessary to copy anyone but it is important to work out why you like that style, why it works for you and to what extent you want to follow that lineage however informally. How do I actually sound? It may be difficult but record your voice during class. Once you have worked through the awkwardness, be kind to yourself and objective. Find three positive things to the way you verbalise yoga to every one aspect that needs improving. Ask your students for feedback. Ask your friend to take a class with you and feedback to you. Accept all feedback with an open heart.
Use verbal cues that relate to the class. Be open-minded and open-hearted when teaching. Have a plan but go with the flow. Be prepared to give cues for those who actually turn up, not those who didn’t. You will grow in confidence once you see your clients respond to your teaching style and that they have faith in you. Practice all aspects of yoga. Meditation will help you to put your ‘performance’ as a yoga teacher into perspective and connect you to your spirit so that you can also allow this to permeate your classes too. By Michelle Nicklin: Founder of Bliss Yoga & Pilates (blissyoga.org.uk)
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Never ending journey
When your teacher training ends. By Cherie Lathey
lot of yoga teacher trainings offer 200 hours of general training, touching on asana, pranayama, anatomy and philosophy. It’s a bit like doing a foundation course before embarking on a degree. You get a taste and then you continue to nourish your learning through further education. Once you start teaching, it can sometimes feel a little bit scary when your students ask you about specifics such as pregnancy, back pain, yoga nidra or any other aspect that you haven’t quite looked at in any depth. As teachers we cannot be expected to have all the answers to everything, and saying “I don’t know” is not a failing, it’s an honest response. Continuous learning is very important for growth. You wouldn’t expect your GP to suddenly start doing physiotherapy or offer you advice on how to breathe properly, unless they had undertaken further studies in the subject. In my experience it takes many years of teaching yoga to find both a voice and feel really comfortable with what you share with your students. It takes a dedicated practice of your own, an authentic belief in what you are teaching, and a number of tools in your yoga toolkit bag.
As you develop as a teacher, you may find you are drawn to a particular demographic - the elderly, children, pregnancy, fertility - or that you would like to learn more about the biomechanics of poses, breath work or assisting students. The list is endless. Continued personal development courses (CPDs) are an excellent way to add to your toolkit. As a senior yoga teacher (both in age and teaching hours), I offer CPDs in an area that I have particular passion for: pregnancy, postnatal and fertility yoga; working with and learning from people who have specialised in these areas such as midwives, fertility doctors and of course pregnant women. However, after many years of teaching, I still attend CPDs and workshops on a regular basis. There is still much to learn. Choose your CPDs wisely and look to see what experience the facilitator has in the subject on offer. Most teachers are happy to talk through CPD courses or workshops. Shop around and find the right one for you. I would also avoid overloading on training courses, as we need to assimilate our learnings before rushing off onto another course. Yoga teacher training is the start of a journey; it is not the destination. Cherie Lathey is the founder of Yoga Mama (yogamama.co.uk)
Yoga Scotland Join the largest yoga community in Scotland Yoga Scotland has been training yoga teachers for more than 40 years. Join our comprehensive and respected 500-hour teacher training course. Experienced Hatha tutors, specialist tutors for philosophy and anatomy & physiology. 15 weekends including 2 residential, first aid, yoga for pregnancy and insurance to teach from year 1.
Next course: Edinburgh 2016-18 Application forms now available Apply by 27th May 2016. Interviews on 25 and 26 June. To find out more about our courses (including Foundation Course and Living Yoga Course) visit www.yogascotland.org.uk or email email@example.com
Youth Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Trainings CPD Courses & Workshops
Get to know and work with your fellow students as you establish yourself
he bonds you establish on your teacher training course are strong and can last a lifetime. Everyone is undergoing so much transformation (from student to teacher) that amid the laughter, learning and (occasional) tears student teachers form a tight and supportive group. At least that’s what we aim to achieve on our British Wheel of Yoga teacher training courses. Our courses are so thorough that they tend to take between 18 months and two years, although student teachers are insured and encouraged to teach from the beginning of the course. That provides enough time for students to really get to know each other and form what educationalists like to call ‘a community of learning’. Yoga is non-competitive, and being on a teacher training course is no different. Students support each other through thick and thin. The aim is to enable each other to become the best teacher you can. On our courses, the BWY Diploma Course Tutors take great care to use techniques like small peer group teaching practices and group and interactive activities to ensure that everyone feels comfortable, included and able to express their voice
as the group learns together. The skilful group management and encouragement to each person to find their ‘inner teacher’ is a distinguishing feature of BWY courses. Some students lack confidence, and can be helped by a ‘course buddy’ programme to give them support. Easy access to the tutor to raise problems and get them resolved is also important. Other students forge ahead, perhaps because they are already teachers in another area of work or because they have cleared their lives to dedicate themselves to yoga teaching. If you are balancing work, a partner, children (or all three!), it can be daunting to find the time to teach and thereby grow in confidence. Our advice to students is always to use your support network and share any problems in ‘circle time’ with the group or privately with the tutor. It is surprising how many apparently confident student teachers suffer with nerves and self-doubt. Once they realise they are all in the same boat they can help each other to find their voice as confident, well trained and authentic yoga teachers. By Paul Fox, Chair of British Wheel of Yoga Qualifications. For information about BWY courses visit: bwy.org.uk
Use your passion to inspire the next generation with our fully accredited courses Learn to teach yoga and mindfulness to adolescents. Open to yoga teachers and trainees, youth professionals, teachers and healthcare workers
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Yoga CPD Courses & Massage Therapy Training By Dawn Morse MSc
Making a living
The business of teaching yoga: simple tips for making a living. By Vidya Heisel
CPD Courses Include: Anatomy for Yoga The Science of Stretching Yoga and Physical Therapy for Back Pain www.coreelements.uk.com
ou have just completed your yoga teachers training and you want to start teaching. How should you go about finding work? Before you start looking for paid work, be prepared to teach a bunch of classes for free. Start by teaching classes to your friends and family, or find somewhere you can volunteer to offer free yoga for a couple of months. Gain some experience and confidence, without worrying about making money at first. When you are ready to start charging for classes, be prepared to put some focused energy into looking for work. As long as you are single-minded about this you will succeed. The obvious place to look for work would be at a yoga studio. However, unless you have a good connection there, it is not usual for a new teacher to be hired by a studio; most studios want experienced teachers. However, finding work as a substitute teacher at yoga studios and gyms is comparatively easy. Most studios love to have a willing substitute teacher who
can jump in at short notice. Approach all the yoga teachers you know, and all of the studios and gyms in your area, and offer your services as a sub. It would be helpful if you could email them your information, send in a resume or give them your business card.
Where else can you teach?
Yoga is so popular these days that there is an endless list of places where you might potentially find work: spas, health clubs, businesses, resorts, colleges, schools, hospitals, church halls, YMCAs, community centres, private houses, prisons, cruise ships and holiday resorts all over the world. As a new teacher do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Try to do all of the following: n Substitute teaching n Run a series of classes at local businesses n Teach in some schools or colleges n Rent your own space, like a church hall, and hold your own class n Find some private clients n Teach some community or donationbased classes
Always offer to teach a free class when approaching a business or a gym that might not yet offer yoga classes. Offer to provide the mats and posters, in exchange for the business emailing their employees and providing you with a space to teach the class. Most companies will be open to allowing you to teach a free class. That way you can establish interest in the classes. The best thing to do in this kind of situation is to sell a series of classes and offer a discount to the students who sign up right after the free class.
As soon as you have some regular students you can start offering them incentives to help you find more students, such as ‘bring a friend and you both come to class half price’. These incentives will help you build a good student base. n Always be kind, compassionate and generous with your students and they will want to come back. n Start a mailing list immediately, so you can keep your students informed about
your ongoing classes and workshops. n K eep up with your own practice and study, so you always have new information to pass on to your students. n Above all, don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. In time, and with some determination, you will be able to grow your business and be a successful yoga teacher. Vidya Heisel runs Frog Lotus Yoga Teacher Training (froglotusyogainternational.com)
Find a decent space that isn’t too expensive to rent by the hour, and start a weekly class there that you promote yourself. Create flyers and offer a free class there. I used to serve chai and home-baked biscuits after class to encourage everyone to stay around and talk to me after class. Make attractive postcard size calling cards, which double up as free class coupons, to distribute at local cafes and hair salons. They should advertise your scheduled weekly classes and your webpage. You may be able to find some private clients that way.
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Nathalie Bennett considers some of the many career choices after yoga teacher training
ou’ve completed your 200-hour training course and the yoga studio beckons. What next? The options for further study can be overwhelming but the following questions are a useful way to begin to develop your career path and carve your own niche. What are you interested in? Exploring what you are interested in helps you find what resonates, focus your teaching and develop your career in a direction you really want it to go in. What is your background? You may have a background in a related field such as teaching or fitness that lends itself to a merging of the two. Or perhaps you’ve had children and want to help other mums. What do your students need or want more of? As a teacher it is important to meet the needs of your students whilst remaining authentic and sharing what you believe. This could be as simple as learning new ways to teach arm balances. What do you feel you need to know more about? Perhaps there is an area of your teaching or your business that you want to be able to do better. Once you start teaching you will notice where the gaps are. What is accessible and realistic? Setting a training budget for the year and planning the courses you want and are able to do is a practical way to structure your career development. As your direction becomes clearer you then have the choice of what to study to help you on your way. We could travel around the
world studying yoga thanks to all the wonderful courses, however this isn’t possible for most of us! CPD’s are an easy, affordable way to build your skills and confidence. They are often three hours, meaning you can fit them around work, helping to tailor your teaching practice and fill in any gaps you may find. 500-hour trainings (or +300 hour) are either spread out over a period of time or an intensive, often in a beautiful location. They allow you to delve deeper into teaching, refining your skills whilst developing your own yoga practice. Specialist training helps you to focus on a certain area that requires more knowledge. They allow you to teach a range of classes, for example pre-natal, yoga therapy or youth yoga, alongside general classes. This helps you to build your own identity as a teacher, crafting a career through developing specific skills that suit you. The biggest challenge for a new teacher can be finding time to still practice yoga yourself, so remember to also study simply to enjoy. Through teaching you will usually begin to discover the direction you want your career to take and the growing industry of yoga ensures that we will always have something to learn. This is what keeps us enthusiastic, our classes fresh and our students inspired, ensuring we teach with passion. By Nathalie Bennett, Live Love Yoga (liveloveyoga.co.uk)
Why bother with insurance? Nick Elwell busts some of the myths surrounding yoga and insurance
et’s be honest, there are so many reasons why people don’t really want to talk about insurance (‘Everyone who comes to my class is more or less a friend now’, or ‘How can meditation hurt anybody?’ or ‘Of course I’ve not read the policy. Does anyone?’) The list is pretty much endless. So, why bother with insurance then? Answer: because you cannot afford the risk of not having insurance. n When you buy insurance, don’t be conned by the advertising or make believe rules. Trainees need insurance as much as teachers and practitioners. There is no truth in the suggestion that you cannot buy insurance until you are qualified. n Promises of swift settlement of claims is a nonsense when settlement depends on often litigious parties and their lawyers.
n If you have 10 young mums with their babies in a pool, how could you cause more than £2 million in damage or injury at any one time? Why do you have to buy cover for £10 million? The numbers are as meaningless as they are ludicrous. n A Buddhist monk who has been teaching yoga for 40 years will not be able to buy insurance from many insurers in the UK due to lack of certification. Absurd. Qualification by experience can be as good if not better than any dusty certificate. n Insurance for yoga teachers is available to all irrespective of who they are (or aren’t) certified with. n Check the details on ‘free with membership’ policies to make sure they’re fit for purpose and competitive price-wise. Nick Elwell is a representative of insurance provider BGi.uk (bgi.uk.com)
What makes a great teacher? Asking what makes a great teacher is like asking what makes a great day – but the following five principles can define the approach that turns a mere discussion leader into a great teacher. By Gopala
The best way to learn is to teach; and teaching is sure to help you be a better you. When you teach, you need to be your ideal self; an expression of love, knowledge and kindness. This is not to say that you should be fake - just give it your best every time because…an awesome teacher is an awesome person. But being awesome is not enough - you need to let your shine show so that the world cannot help but know how amazing you are. So let shine whatever ignites your unique sparkle and swagger!
teacher trainings have very little that was called ‘yoga’ a hundred years ago. The possibilities are endless. Life is an evolution, and everything in your present and your future, has, in one way or another, a foundation in what you have achieved and experienced in your past. So don’t be like the million other yoga teachers out there, experiment and explore to find your personal and passionate style of yoga to share with the world.
Start teaching right now! Don’t wait until you know everything before you start teaching - no one knows everything. And don’t wait until you are perfect before you start to teach - no one is perfect. Waiting only makes you stagnant and dulls your energy. The honest truth is that you learn as you go and you evolve with your students, so get out there and share yourself with the world.
A lotus flower does not form without mud, and the more mud, the better the flower. It is often the most broken people that make the best teachers. The challenges that they have overcome make them able to understand and relate compassionately to other people. We teach best from our own genuine failures and experiences. Teach from the inside, from the life experiences that have transformed you and don’t be afraid to show your own limitations, it will help your students feel more comfortable with theirs. Therefore, be authentic to where you come from, who you are now and what challenges you and you can unlock the unique and real experiences and wisdom you have to share from within you. Trust that you have meaningful gifts to give to the world that someone will need. When you offer your authentic gifts from your heart, they are sure to be a great service to someone.
Make your yoga your own, and make it new. Yoga is not set in stone; it has been evolving for years. Even the most ‘traditional’ yoga
Be The Change
What is the job description of a great teacher? I have always read it as “to make people happy”. You are amazing (we all are in our own special way) and you are going to change the world - not by talking, but simply by being the awesome, powerful, free and inspiring version of yourself that you have decided to be. The question now is not if you are ready, but if the world is ready for you. Of course, the answer is always: “Yes!” Gopala has trained over 12,000 yoga teachers through his Rainbow Kids Yoga, Sun Moon Partner and Community Yoga, and 200-300 hour Yoga Specialty Teacher Training (rainbowyogatraining.com)
Bhudda said, Don’t simply believe reports, legends, traditions, scripture, or even logical conjecture, inference, analogy, or probability. Don’t just agree with the many ponderous viewpoints or get drawn in by the thought, “This person is my teacher.” When you know for yourself that: “The qualities taught are skillful, blameless and praised by the wise. They lead to welfare and happiness for one and all” — then pursue, develop and retain those qualities in yourself always. Gautama Buddha, Kalama Sutta
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om mind Meditation of the month
FEELING THE FIRE OF TRANSFORMATION 100
om mind A meditation to keep you walking through the flames of life’s challenges until your desires have been fulfilled. By Jill Lawson
ollow-through isn’t just the finish of a successful tennis serve, it is a critical aspect in getting things done in life. We all make goals, set intentions, and wish to achieve our biggest aspirations, but many don’t have the follow-through it takes to succeed. In yogic terms, follow-through is associated with tapas. In Sanskrit, tapas means heat. It is a word that explains the internal fire created by disciplined action and the desire to change. When we make changes in our lives, we experience the fire of transformation. However, when things heat up, most of us tend to run the other way. Making changes, whether it be quitting a habit, or beginning an exercise programme, can be uncomfortable. The following meditation is designed to help you take that first step into the fire, and with consistent practice, it will help keep you walking through the flames until your desires have been fulfilled.
Do it now
Begin this meditation preferably after doing some type of vigorous aerobic exercise such as running or brisk walking. You want your body to be warm, for maximum benefit. Find a place to stand, free from distractions. Choose a goal you would like to accomplish. Imagine it vividly in your mind. Allow yourself to feel all the sensations associated with having already achieved your goal. Next, imagine your success in achieving your goal has been taken away from you and placed into a fire pit. Notice what that feels like. Do you feel burned and angry? These feelings are what will help you step into the fire and retrieve your desired outcome. Focus on how you feel with a strong sense of conviction. Trust you will overcome any obstacles that prevent you from having what you want. Now it’s time to step into the flames. The hotter and more passionate you feel on the inside, the cooler the fire of transformation will feel on the outside. Remember that burning sensation of having your success taken away from you? Be that now. Stand up tall, make fists with your hands, let out a loud roar, feel your heart burst into flames. With bravery and follow-through, take back the success that is rightfully yours. Whenever you feel your motivation waning, practice this heated meditation. A burning desire isn’t just something you read about in a romance novel. It is the power needed to follow through with every intention you set for yourself.
Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher in Colorado, USA (jilllawsonyoga.com)
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om mind De-Stress: Yoga off the Mat
Finding stillness through movement
Yoga, walking and other movement-based activities can be a means to unlock the eternal stillness within. By Charlotte Watts
any folks are drawn to yoga as an opportunity to experience the focused, steady concentration of meditation in a moving, rather than still form. So if we find sitting still challenging and even downright difficult, how can we find a bridge from the physically active to a more contained form of connection? The eight-fold path of yoga as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, places the asanas or postures that we now mainly associate with yoga, the third limb along the path. This work is often cited as the seed of modern yoga, so from this context, the physical aspects which now dominate the practice (and its image) were suggested as a route to prepare the body for the real business of meditation or Dhyana (which literally means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’ in one translation). This is the seventh limb before the ultimate state of oneness and liberation; Samadhi, where there is no distinction between the meditator and universal consciousness. If this seems pretty abstract to grasp on paper, don’t worry, it always will be as with all meditative practices it is completely experiential and lost when described through words. Although meditation is often most associated with Eastern religions, it has been practiced throughout most cultures in some form; as prayer, contemplation or even time spent in nature. It is a natural state for the mind and we visit this altered state of consciousness often, where time passes quickly and we feel connected to the world around us. Maybe you’ve noticed that: when something like a view or a feeling held your awareness, whilst your brain went into a natural rest – staring out of a window or walking through a park. This is part of the brain’s natural cycles, allowing it to form memories, create new pathways and cultivate new habits.
Meditating formally is to create these moments and learn to stay with them with awareness. There are many different types of meditation practice and that means many different routes towards its aim, which is simply put, to train the mind to allow complete focus, consciousness and sustained attention. Practicing asanas and being fully focused on the experience unfolding – without needing to judge if ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant’ – is a marvellous way in for those of us not used to spending much time slowing down and being with stillness. But, at some point, progressing to doing less is the ultimate aim. Mixing a physical and still practice allows us to be with these different qualities and how they change what arises and how we respond to that – either move it through our bodies or contain and hold it. We can be so praised and conditioned for doing more, achieving more and doing it faster, that to slow down, be quiet and still can often seem quite scary, but it has a deep history and is wellresearched for promoting sanity, clarity and health. The idea of sitting and focusing might seem challenging if you are new to it, so it can help to understand it by first noticing the opposite, freefall way our minds are left to wander most of the time. It’s not unusual for our minds to be constantly flitting, chattering, narrating our lives, latching onto thoughts and ideas, filling in gaps and creating opinions and judgments. A mindful, moving practice like yoga asanas
gives our minds a different focus of something to do, which is why many are drawn to that over meditation.
Walking meditation offers a point between the two and can help those who feel anxious or agitated when coming to still. Our connection to the ground is a palpable and accessible way in to waking up our body senses and truly feeling a sense of where we are right now. As we walk to move ourselves around and to experience nature through our most natural movement, we can associate walking with the embodiment, whole body attunement and constant change that are key characteristics of meditation. Slowing down this automatic movement towards a sense of being in each step rather than where the steps are taking us, can provide a direct route to dropping in to the present moment.
Try it now
Stand comfortably and begin by breathing in to your feet to get a sense of the ground holding you up. Meditating standing as a preparation for walking or as a meditation in its own right is another option to feel grounded and secure. Let yourself move with the tide of your breath and notice where you may be holding against that flow. Acknowledge how we are stronger when we bend and sway, so we have flexibility rather than brittleness – like a tree in the wind. Start to walk slowly, moving through your heels to the balls of your feet and to the toes, noticing when your body shifts the weight onto the next step. Fully experience each part of the motion, drawing your attention back down to start at your feet any time you notice you’ve drifted off or gone into automatic. You can come back to these questions whenever you need a focus for meditation: n C an I feel each part of the shifting weight on my feet touching the ground? n Can I start to track up the wakefulness of movement from feet up through my body and up to my head as I move? n Am I able to slow down or are thoughts arising to drive me faster? n C an I let go of ‘getting somewhere’? n C an I feel the difference in my walking gait when I drop the need to strive forward? Meditation means being open to finding peace, quiet and being with the feelings that arise when we step away from letting our busy minds run the show. However we do it, just showing up and creating that dedicated focus can bring enormous positive effects throughout our lives. It is certainly not always easy, but it is always of benefit. Many people take up meditation because it helps develop compassion, acceptance, relaxation and wellbeing. A regular practice seeps out into our lives to make us more resilient, tolerant and able to meet demands with more equanimity – grace under pressure. Charlotte Watts is a UK-based yoga instructor and the author of The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness (charlottewattshealth.com)
‘GOOD’ bad day
6 steps to have a positively ‘good’ bad day. By Andrea Morrison
n many ways we are so blessed with all the positive images that surround us, you only need to pop onto any social media platform to be greeted with positive quotes and affirmations, photos of people in their forearm-stand scorpion poses and top tips to make us happy and successful - the list is endless. However, sometimes, it can be a bit much. Being surrounded with happy smiley people when you are having a bad day is simply the last thing you want to see - as it can reinforce the feeling that you too should be happy all the time and that by not feeling like that, you are simply letting the side down. Well, life just isn’t like that is it, and I’m here to let you know that bad days are not only okay - they are a good thing. I’m a firm believer in balance in all things:
for example, where there is light there is dark, where there is cold there is hot. Our world is full of examples like this - and when there are good days there are bad. Usually, when we have a bad day, it’s because we have lost some of this balance along the way. We may have been working too hard, not spending enough time on recharging, not spending time doing what we love or with whom we love, we may have lost our direction or focus. Having a bad day allows us to bring all this into check, it gives us the opportunity to assess what is going on around us and get our lives back on track. Andrea Morrison is a coach, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. Find out more at: andreamorrison.co.uk
HERE ARE MY 6 STEPS TO HAVE A POSITIVELY ‘GOOD’ BAD DAY
Give yourself permission to have your bad day, remind yourself that it’s ok, we’re not superheroes, and the world will keep on turning without us! If you can, clear as many commitments as possible, today is a day to focus on you. Plan some self-care - even if it is simply resting, that may be just what you need. Is there something that you really enjoy doing that you could do today? If you are unable to clear the whole day, take a break out of your day and get to a yoga class, or if you can’t do that carry out some pranayama exercises.
Ensure that during your bad day, you spend a little time outside, even if it is raining. Be present in that moment of being with something completely natural and simple, having that connection can enormously improve your feeling of wellbeing.
Later in the day reflect on the past few weeks, can you identify where you have lost your balance? What has been missing recently? Towards the end of the day, when you start to feel a little better, use these reflections to plan how you can incorporate more balance in the days ahead.
Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life Swami Janakananda
will allow novices and experts to expand their knowledge of yoga “This is an inspiring and, above all, refreshingly practical book. It has been written by a man who understands his trade and knows what he is talking about - you feel this when reading it. Even people who already know something about yoga will be surprised at how much this book offers. The last four chapters exclusively treat the theme of meditation and belong to the best of what I have read on the subject.” Swami Pragyamurti, London. Available at www.troubador.co.uk and other book shops. £17.99. ISBN 9789197789455 Welcome to Swami Janakananda’s; Haa Retreat Center in South Sweden. We have retreats all year round:
Before you go to sleep, recall 5 things that you have realised during today that you are grateful for, and know that tomorrow is a new day.
So the next time when you have a bad day, embrace it, allow it to happen and use it as a tool to make your life a better one.
Mindful at 30,000 feet Coming home after a trip to visit her elderly mother, Priscilla Dann-Courtney believes we can find comfort even in the crowded confines of a jumbo jet
irplane seating can be tight these days; cheaper but ‘cosy’. On a flight home after a visit to my 90-year-old mother, I found myself nestled between a snoring stranger on my right and a leaning lady to my left. It was the lunch hour as I tried to gingerly balance my tea and fruit on my lap, fearful one of them might end up with a slice of banana in their ear, or tea spilled on a leg. Completing my afternoon meditation had been an easier feat stillness causes no disruption. And upright seats that don’t recline made me feel close to my cushion at home. My practice continued into a mindful lunch, allowing me to taste the sadness of my visit to my mother. I think back to the day before when I sat with her planning to take a short walk. By the time we got to her front door she had forgotten where we were going. She had been so excited to give my son a card for his 26th birthday, only to hand him a card saying, ‘Season’s Greetings’, with a small cheque for his wedding anniversary? And with such pride she showed me her Raggedy Ann doll she bought online to keep her company. I was reminded of being on one’s mat in a crowded yoga class where in intimate surroundings, one can be so vulnerable to one’s pain. Sweat droplets christen corners of neighbouring mats, the tears of personal grief. The man’s snoring on my right became the heavy breathing heard in a challenging class. The woman’s leaning on my left became the inevitable bumping in expansive poses. As I focused on my small meal, I worried the ripe banana aroma might offend my neighbours. As a child, bananas could
not be purchased or eaten in our home my mother detested the smell. I hold on to that foreboding fear of a shaking finger at a forbidden fruit. Like the mat, my mindful lunch brought heightened memories and patterns. I saw my fear of taking up too much space, shrinking between seat-mates. Their presence with no words made it so easy to assume their thoughts. Like a ventriloquist I dropped words in their mouth gathered from my basket of childhood memories. Sadly my mother’s basket becomes sparser with each visit - her mindfulness slowly replaced by mindlessness. She gave me a small bag of butter cookies and a beautiful Hydrangeas flower when I kissed her goodbye, its stem wrapped in a moist paper towel. It would be a long flight home – wilting blossoms of a beautiful mind losing its petals. “I think I have six months left of memory honey, but it will be okay because I won’t know it,” she confided over vanilla icecream on my last night. I wish I could catch her memories like the birthday balloons I would for my children. My musings and sadness flowed as I placed the rest of my lunch in my backpack. Instead of my worries about my in-flight neighbours, I felt held by them. As in yoga class, others add comfort just by showing up. Turbulence is the truth about our travels and why we don’t fly alone. We gathered our belongings once we landed. Rolling up our invisible mats, I exchanged smiles with the ‘leaning lady’ to my left, thankful for her embrace with no words. Small forgotten petals followed me down the aisle as I made my way home.
The power of chanting
Finding relief for the ‘hole in the soul’. By Nikki Slade
hat I’ve found, through my work as a Kirtan leader and voice facilitator over 25 years is everyone has a craving for something something that cannot be filled with outer means, no matter how much we keep searching. It’s like trying to place a jigsaw piece in the wrong jigsaw puzzle - it just doesn’t fit, no matter how many different ways we turn it or how much we force it. We search for this something in approval, in technology, in the promise of romance, in the internet in all it’s many forms. We are looking to fill what is sometimes regarded as the ‘hole in the soul’.
The loneliness of modern life: What’s wrong with me?
Cities can be lonely places – and I have seen many people ‘flying high’ in the financial districts who look to the world like they ‘have it all’ but inside, are lost in their own personal hell. They have traded health for career success. Their energy is exhausted, especially, I have found, with sedentary office workers who rely on drugs and alcohol to fill up this empty feeling inside them. Ultimately, we are all the same. And where everyone seems to go is to that place of ‘what’s wrong with me?’ There is nothing wrong with you. And the authentic spiritual journey is recognising that the point is not to try to make yourself better or to improve your life, or to manifest ‘stuff’. These are all attempts to try to fill the hole in the soul - and they don’t work. The journey of life we must all take is to recognise that we are already enough, just as we are, right here and right now. And from this stance, we can begin living the lives we were meant to live. When I first discovered chanting back in 1987 I was in a dark place emotionally. It felt like my life was falling apart. I felt like I was cocooned in a world of pain numbing myself with drugs and alcohol. The world I saw seemed like a nightmare and I was trapped behind a glass screen where nothing could reach me.
Then, seemingly by chance, a well-known singer suggested I went to her meditation group and I met with the idea of chanting for the first time, as in this group one of the main practices was something called Kirtan or ‘chanting’. Chanting or Kirtan is the practice of repeating a mantra in the language of Sanskrit which is a refined celestial language passed down through lineages in India through many centuries. The transmission in the chants from these lineages carry great shakti or spiritual energy such that when we chant we become alive and connected to our blissful and free inner nature. When a mantra is repeated often, it creates its own power. And so the chants I share and facilitate have an ancient vibration flowing through them, which is wholly relevant today and is becoming widespread and popular in the mainstream.
Many people regard chanting as something exotic and complicated, or religious and dogmatic or even ‘woo woo’.. but it’s not. Chanting is meditation with voice – and often succeeds where other meditation practices fail. Certain aspects of Sufism, for example, see straightforward meditation, like mindfulness, as difficult if not impossible. The mind needs something to focus on, like a ‘toy to play with’, and this is where chanting comes in. Most people have undisciplined minds – and the undisciplined mind finds silence too much – the mantra keeps them focused and lifts them into the inner stillness. There is an intensity with these Kirtan groups and gatherings where people have said that they have found a depth of connection and inner peace that they have seldom experienced before.
Vibration is everything
Everything is vibration - we think that the world is made up of physical sound but it’s all vibrating energy, and sound is the ‘hidden’ key to working with this. Chanting puts you in the flow, in connection with your true self. However, this is not ‘abracadabra’ – I can still go to those dark places. Having an addictive personality myself, I have been in many dark places and these experiences have often given me the ‘map’ to guide others out of them, through the power of grace. Fears never go away as I’ve found. The difference is, I now have the tools to deal with the fear, whereas before it totally overwhelmed me. This tool, of chanting, helps me to hear myself clearly when lost in the confusion. One of my favourite groups to work with are fellow recovering addicts as it is so wonderful to be able to pass on this glorious and uplifting practice and to witness the difference it makes to them too.
My vision for the world
My work has reached a lot of people. But many more Kirtan facilitators are needed – and that is why I have developed the first certified Learn to Lead Kirtan foundation training in London. We are going to create more and more leaders and I am behind that happening. First there was yoga, and now is the time to launch Kirtan. It’s the beginning of a chanting revolution here in the UK and Europe. It promises to be enriching, informative and fun! It’s an intensive, comprehensive course that begins in September and finishes in November. We are all looking for the same thing – the more that people connect, the better the world will be. At the end of the day everything we do in life is to find love, and once we tap it, we are fulfilled. And then we can begin living. When you add a little chanting to your life, everything gets better. Discover more about Nikki Slade and upcoming events including information about the Learn to Lead Kirtan foundation training, beginning in London on September 12 at: nikkislade.com
“Everything is vibration – we think that the world is made up of physical sound but it’s all vibrating energy, and sound is the ‘hidden’ key to working with this.”
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Folkington’s Garden Range
Folkington’s sparkling juices will keep you hydrated in style this summer. The Sussex company’s delicious Garden Range includes Lemon & Mint, Ginger Beer, Elderflower, Rhubarb & Apple. All 100% natural, made from pure juices (not concentrate), and free from unnecessary artificial additives. £1.20 (250ml) folkingtons.com
Primrose Kitchen Muesli
Online supermarket Ocado now stocks Primrose’s Kitchen Raw Vegetable Muesli in both the Raw Carrot & Cinnamon and Raw Beetroot & Ginger flavours. The naturopathic brand’s Organic Raw Granolas also launched in April, for a nutritious breakfast or a great snack or light lunch throughout the day. £5.95 (400g) primrosekitchen.com
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The Yoga Kitchen Kitchen essentials for all healthy living yoga enthusiasts
Balsamic Roasted Red Onions, Aubergine, Fig & Olive Salad Serves: 4
Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • • •
2 large red onions 60ml (2fl oz/¼ cup) good-quality balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons filtered water 2 large aubergines (eggplants), cut into large chunks 2–3 tablespoons olive oil sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper 50g (2 oz/1/3 cup) raw whole almonds 60g (2¼ oz) radicchio leaves, roughly torn 40g (1½ oz/1 cup) rocket (arugula) leaves large bunch of basil, leaves chopped 4 large red figs, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces 50g (2 oz/scant ½ cup) pitted black olives, of your choice
“The sweetness of the balsamic really brings out the wonderful flavour of the onions.”
Preheat the oven to 210°C fan/475°F/Gas 9. Trim the root end of each onion, trying to keep a little intact so the onions will hold together when cut. Cut the onions in half and then peel the skin off. Cut the halves into 2 or 3 wedges depending on the size. Place the onions, balsamic vinegar and the filtered water in a baking tray, toss gently and roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes. You will need to keep checking the onions don’t burn and cover loosely with foil if over-browning. When the onions are soft, remove from the oven. 2. In the meantime, place the aubergine chunks on a baking tray (baking sheet). Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss then roast in the hot oven at the same time as the onions for 25 minutes or until soft and golden brown. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. 3. Spread out the almonds on a small baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, roughly chop. 4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the radicchio, rocket and basil leaves together, then toss through the roasted onions, aubergine and figs. Scatter with the chopped almonds and olives. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve.
Carrot Gnocchi With Cashew Cream & Gremolata Serves: 4
Ingredients For the carrot gnocchi • 3 carrots (350g/12 oz), peeled and chopped into pieces for roasting • 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 • 20g (4oz/generous ¾ cup) raw macadamia nuts or cashews, activated • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste • 1 tablespoon ground cumin • ½ teaspoon ground coriander • ½ teaspoon sea salt micro leaves, to garnish For • • •
the gremolata 1 bunch of parsley, leaves picked 1 garlic clove, peeled zest of 1 lemon
For • • • • •
the cashew cream 120g (4 oz/generous ¾ cup) raw cashews, activated 2 tablespoons preserved lemons, chopped 60ml (2fl oz/¼ cup) rice milk pinch of sweet paprika pinch of sea salt
To make the carrot gnocchi, first roast the carrots. Preheat the oven to 170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5. Boil (parboil) the carrots in water for 3 minutes. Drain and toss in the oil. Spread out on a baking tray (baking sheet) and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes until tender and lightly golden. Place the roasted carrots, soaked macadamia nuts, ginger, maple syrup, tamarind paste, ground cumin, coriander and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Next, make the gremolata. Finely chop the parsley, place in a small bowl, then grate the garlic clove into the bowl using a microplane grater or a fine-toothed grater. Grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl and mix together. Set aside. Now make the cashew cream. Combine the cashews, preserved lemons, rice milk, sweet paprika and sea salt into a high-speed blender or small food processor and blend until creamy. Adjust seasoning. When ready to serve, place a spoonful of the cashew cream in the centre of the dish and, with the back of a tablespoon, smear it across the plate. Place the carrot gnocchi on top of each cashew cream swirl, then sprinkle the gremolata around the plates and serve.
“This recipe provides a perfect ratio of amino acids and essential fatty acids found within the body naturally and the most abundant and easily digestible source of clean protein available in our food chain.”
Lemon Cheesecake Chia Pudding Ingredients For • • • • • For • • • • • • •
the base 400ml (14fl oz) filtered water 1 lemon verbena tea bag 300g (11 oz/12/3 cups) stoned (pitted) dates 200g (7 oz/11/3 cups) Brazil nuts, roughly chopped the filling 150g (50z/1 cup) cashews, soaked in filtered water for 3–4 hours 400ml (14fl oz) can coconut milk ½ vanilla pod (bean), seeds scraped out finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons 12 stoned (pitted) dates 300ml (10fl oz/1¼ cups) filtered water 125g (4oz/generous 3¾ cup) chia seeds
For the decoration • toasted coconut flakes or dried rose petals
“This recipe is incredibly filling and packed with clean protein nuts and seeds.”
To make the base, place the water into a saucepan and add the lemon verbena tea bag. Bring to the boil, then remove the tea bag and add the dates. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the dates to soften in the tea. Using a wooden spoon, begin to stir and break down the dates until a paste is formed. Add the chopped Brazil nuts and stir to combine. Press it into the base of 8 individual glasses or serving dishes. 2. To make the filling place all the ingredients, except the chia seeds and rose petals, into a blender or food processor and blend on high for at least 2 minutes or until a smooth liquid has formed and all the cashews and dates have been puréed. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the chia seeds. Use a whisk to make sure all the chia seeds have been evenly distributed into the liquid. 3. Pour the liquid mixture over the cheesecake base, then place in the refrigerator to chill and set. This will take an hour or you can leave it overnight. Decorate with rose petals or coconut flakes and serve.
All recipes from The Yoga Kitchen by Kimberly Parsons (Quadrille £20) Photography: Lisa Cohen
LONDONâ€™S CALLING 21, 22, 23 October 2016 Alexandra Palace, LONDON
SHOW OPENS: Friday 21st October: 11am-6pm Saturday 22nd October: 10am-6pm Sunday 23rd October: 10am-5pm
om living Nutrition Zone:
Nutrition myths Navigate through the nutritional myths…6 simple rules to live by. By Kimberly Parsons
utrition is often a very confusing topic, made even more confusing by food companies who market foods as ‘lite’ or ‘low-fat’; often leading to consumers buying products which they believe to be healthy, completely unaware of the true facts and nutritional profiles of these foods. We now live in a society where health has many definitions and extremes. People are basing their diet regimes around new fad diets and thus losing the ability to tune in to their own body and feed it what it needs and desires. I believe one of the most empowering tools we can possess as humans is the knowledge and ‘know how’ to nourish our bodies and give it the nutrients it needs for optimal health and vitality.
Here are a few of the nutritional myths and statements I am tired of hearing in my naturopathic practice and what I tell my patients instead:
“I quit all sugars, I now don’t eat bananas, berries or carrots”
The harmful effects of sugar are among the few things that most health experts agree on. Everyone knows that sugar is unhealthy and most health conscious people try to avoid it. All sugar is broken down in our bodies into glucose, which our cells use for energy. However, the difference between that teaspoon of sugar you add to your
“People are basing their diet regimes around new fad diets and thus losing the ability to tune in to their own body and feed it what it needs and desires.” 116
cup of tea and the natural sugar in a piece of fruit is the presence of vitamins and minerals. Natural whole plant-based sugars are not only healthy but essential for active people in certain amounts. It is certainly true that we should all be avoiding refined sugars as much as possible (and eating large amounts of dried fruits isn’t a healthy option either) but I believe sugar found in whole plant-based foods is natural and safe to consume in moderation.
muscles is something that happens over time by challenging your muscles. I say we should all follow in the footsteps of our gorilla ancestors and adopt a diet based on whole plant foods — like beans, grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. They provide plenty of protein to meet everyone’s needs, along with fibre, antioxidants, and critical phytonutrients.
“Eating more protein will make me stronger and build more muscle”
Agave is claimed to be natural, and marketed as a diabetic-friendly sweetener that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. However, if you ignore the marketing claims and take a look at what agave nectar really contains, you will learn that it is a highly processed regular refined sugar. In its natural state the agave plant does contain healthy compounds like fructans, which are linked to beneficial effects on metabolism and insulin. However, when processed into a syrup, the manufacturers break the healthy fructans down into fructose by exposing the sugary fluid to heat and/or enzymes. This process destroys all of the health promoting properties of the agave plant, but instead
On a pound-for-pound basis, the gorilla is the strongest animal on the planet. A full-grown gorilla can lift up to 2,000kg (as heavy as 30 humans); over 10 times its own body weight. And guess what the strongest animal on the planet eats? About 67% of their diet comes from fruits, 17% leaves, seeds and stems, and only 3% comes from eating termites and caterpillars. There is no proven evidence that eating more protein will help you gain more muscle. What you want to focus on is making sure you get enough protein for your body to help repair the muscles after a workout. Getting bigger
“Agave is a healthy sugar alternative”
om living produces the concentrated syrup available on store shelves that is falsely claimed to be healthy. When choosing healthy sugar substitutes I recommend my patients choose raw honey or dates.
texture, they are a fantastic accompaniment to any meal and I recommend them to all of my patients.
“I should limit the amount of avocado I eat because they contain saturated fat”
Skinny milk is a product where the natural occurring fats in whole milk have been removed. For years we have been told skinny milk is healthier for us because it is ‘fat-free’ and therefore lowers our risk of cardiovascular disease amongst others. Unfortunately the truth is far from this and skinny milk is actually a product completely devoid of any nutritional value to us. The vitamins naturally found in milk; A, D, E and K are fat soluble, which means they need
While it’s true that avocados contain high amounts of fat, the fat they contain is healthy, monounsaturated fat. Unlike saturated fats, monounsaturated fats reduce cholesterol and may help you lose weight. The truth is avocados alone won’t cause you to get fat, even if you eat one per day. Avocados are prized for their dense, creamy
“Skinny milk is healthier than fullfat milk”
6 SIMPLE STEPS TO LIVE BY: 1. MAKE A FEW EASY SUBSTITUTIONS: n U se a mixture of flax seed and hemp oil as your salad dressing base instead of olive oil n R eplace olive oil for cooking with coconut oil n R eplace dairy or soy milks with unsweetened almond milk n S witch to matcha to get your caffeine fix 2. HEALTH STARTS BY LOOKING AFTER YOUR LIVER The simplest way we can all start to look after our liver is to eat bitter foods. Foods such as rocket leaves, lemons, dill, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, dandelion greens, turmeric, chicory, endive, radicchio and chard. 3. PROBIOTICS SHOULD BE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND Taking a probiotic at the end of every day is essential for digestive health and maintains a healthy gut bacteria flora. My favourite is the Udos branded probiotics as they contain the highest amounts of micro-organisms per capsule. 4. FOOD IS FOR NOURISHMENT AND ENJOYMENT IN EQUAL MEASURE As a naturopath for 10 years, I base most of my advice on the links between food and health. However, I am not a member of the ‘food police’ and I certainly don’t believe that one bar of chocolate, a cup of coffee, a freshly baked croissant, or a dollop of ice cream on your strawberries will put your health at risk for the next 10 years. I am deeply concerned about many people I see – mostly women - who have become so obsessed with food that they worry about every forkful that goes into their mouths. Diet regimes and labeling your diet has become the norm. “I am vegan” “I only eat paleo” “I don’t eat carrots”, “I don’t want any sugar in my diet”. Of course, its great to eat organic if you can and it’s important to consume less animal fat, salt and sugar but healthy eating should never be about deprivation.
fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Also, calcium absorption is enhanced by Vitamin D, but the Vitamin D needs fat, so skinny milk breaks the entire chain of absorption and becomes nutritionally empty. For the patients I prescribe dairy milk to, I recommend they consume whole organic milk and make sure skinny, or semi-skimmed is left on the shelf at the supermarket. Kimberly Parsons is the owner and founder of Retreat Cafés, which are an integral part of London’s yoga, health and wellness revolution. She also caters for detox programmes. Kimberly is a trained naturopath and chef and all her recipes are focused on holistic health.
Where you choose to put your stake in the ground is totally up to you and your definition of health for your body is your decision and your decision alone. All I ask is that you take the time to educate yourself on health and put into practice the things you decide are right for you. 5. BE UNASHAMEDLY YOU The best part about growing older has been the comfort I have found in my own skin. I love being me and always make time for myself to continue to find myself and learn new things. We are all gifts to this world and everyone deserves to be able to just be unashamedly themselves. There is only one you! 6. BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE; YOU’LL END UP HAVING MORE. I have a morning priming routine that I never leave the house without doing. The cornerstone of this ritual is to focus on three things I am grateful for in that moment. By taking the time to appreciate what I have, I always leave the house and start my day feeling like my glass is half full; it allows me to go about my day always feeling lucky and inspired. Try it – it works!
om family Concious Parenting
Beat the age of THE GREAT DISCONNECT
Finding a true and authentic way to connect with children and teens through yoga. By Starchild Yoga creator Siri Arti
he opposite of connection is disconnection. When we canâ€™t meet young people where they are at, we create a state of disconnect. Disconnection is visible on many levels in society: from the reward and punishment-led educational system, to the parent who complains about her teenage son, but forgets to make time for him each day. In order to allow this natural law to unfold, the child must be protected from
deviation of all that is outside of his (or her) natural development. Instead, the child is to be observed closely and supported when choosing to move forward on a journey of choice. If the child indeed contains the secret of human nature, he/she also owns an inherent wisdom that goes beyond their years. It is this wisdom that enables the child to move in his own direction. Bearing this in mind, can we as adults, observe the natural flow of their development, hold the space for it, and stay connected
enough to know what the child needs?
Start with you
The challenge is personal and the work starts with you. As a Starchild Yoga teacher, I know only too well that when I adhere strictly to my class plan, without allowing space for the session to unfold naturally, I have the potential to lose the childrenâ€™s attention. As a parent, if I meet my children where I want them to be, instead of where they are, I run the risk of losing them.
My challenge is to create the space to observe them, so that I know what they need to feel inspired. As a parent, and a teacher, I have to drop my agenda, connect to myself and constantly make space for the magic to unfold. Most often, this means that the work is actually being done on myself. As a yoga teacher, if my class is falling apart, I look at how I am meeting and managing the class. In my home, when things feel strained with my children, I take a step back and observe to find the cracks in my connection to them. Looking outside of ourselves, blaming young people for dysfunction and projecting, is all part of the great disconnect. Take a closer look at your role as an adult and do whatever it takes to reconnect. The result will be worth the effort.
Yoga teacher training for children
Remember that connecting to young people is necessary to help society thrive. Those of us brave enough to step into that space, will know what real connection feels like. In turn, our family relationships will blossom and our communities will heal. This path won’t always be comfortable, but trust the process, seek support and count your blessings. Be the parent your child wishes you to be, and make the world a brighter place. I am delighted at the growth in children’s yoga trainings. It is important to keep educating the masses. Yes, there may be a focus on age appropriate yoga postures, meditation, visualisation and relaxation, but the emphasis at Starchild Yoga is on how to
meet the child. The student teacher takes their own journey through childhood by experiencing all areas of the teaching themselves, using Kundalini Yoga as a means to self-empower. This course offers students a magical opportunity to reconnect to themselves; enabling the connection to the children they work with. Alongside this, there is a strong educational element, including practical strategies on managing yoga classes. Starchild Yoga offers a sparkling set of diverse life skills to support you, and the children you meet on your life’s journey. Starchild Yoga Teacher Training Dates: September, 2016: Athens October, 2016: London Find out more at: starchildyoga.com
Do’s and don’ts
Being able to meet a child makes a great parent, a fantastic teacher and an excellent mentor. But first you need to understand and explore what it means to really be present with young people. Reflect on how children receive you, this will offer valuable insight on how connected you already are. Take some time to look at these do’s and don’ts and let it be a work in progress.
Ignore them Have double standards Be disrespectful Be disconnected Be afraid Be judgemental Be unkind Make them feel small Be controlling
Drop your agenda Listen to them Inspire Make sure they feel seen Encourage mutual respect Have clear boundaries Enhance your skills of observation Be intuitive Be curious Be present Be supportive Make time and space for them Manage your self-care Be kind Be a good role model
Zoë Plöger talks to Swiss pilot and keen yoga enthusiast André Borschberg, one of the two men currently flying the ground-breaking Solar Impulse aircraft on the first solar-powered air circumnavigation of the world
hen Swiss pilot André Borschberg flies 8,500 metres above the earth in his solar-powered plane, there’s no past, no future – only the present. All time pressure disappears. “It’s not about how fast you get to your destination, but about how you get to your destination with nothing but nature. Just using the power of the sun, you can cross the biggest ocean. It’s about doing more with less, and to be conscious and present within this experience,” he tells OM. Last July, as part of the Solar Impulse project to fly a solar-powered plane around the earth for the very first time and in order to promote clean energy, Borschberg completed the longest ever solo flight when he flew from Japan to Hawaii in five days and nights.
It seems facile to ask if he ever gets lonely up there: for one thing, he’s constantly in touch with the Mission Control Centre in Monaco via satellite; for another, he is a man who, through meditation and yoga, is used to cultivating self-sufficiency. When we speak, he’s just returned from a 10 day Vipassana retreat in the Swiss Jura mountains during which he meditated in silence for 12 hours a day and observed an austere regime that includes waking at 4am and no food after midday. Vipassana means ‘seeing things as they really are’ and the Dhamma Sumeru Centre that Borschberg attends describes the process that students undergo as ‘self-purification by self-observation’. Of the process, Borschberg says: “When you meditate 12 hours a day,
you forget about the past and the future; you forget about your problems; I highly recommend it.” As a keen yogi, he has had the 3.8m³ cockpit adapted for his practice in shape and size, as well as in terms of the design of the seat, and the addition of helpful straps and bars on the mainframe of the interior. When every gram counts, this shows how imperative his yoga is, apart from the obvious physical advantages of asana like the prevention of thrombosis. He says: “Yoga gives you the capability to adapt to surprises. One becomes an observer of oneself. It gives you the ability to look at how you are. In stressful situations, during technical difficulties, you take some distance.” Borschberg’s teacher, Antastha yoga master Sanjeev Bhanot, seconds this in more scientific terms: “Adrenaline impacts our ability to judge and yoga can counteract extra adrenaline in the system.”
Borschberg has been working with Bhanot for 10 years. They met in India and, back then, Bhanot says “we didn’t even know if this thing would fly”. In collaboration with the Solar Impulse medical team – cardiologists, osteopaths, sleep and altitude specialists – Bhanot has developed a special Central Nervous System series to help Borschberg cope with the stresses of flying in this unique but demanding plane. Borschberg can even do a shoulder stand in his specially adapted cockpit; the seat, which is of the same proportions as a yoga mat, allows him to perform a modified, seated Sun Salutation. When Borschberg reached Hawaii after five days in the cockpit, “he walked out of that
plane, totally coherent, and into a big press conference. He had no bodily aches or pains. He just said his right hip was a little stiff,” smiles Bhanot.
So, what’s Borschberg’s favourite pose when he’s flying? “Can I have two? What’s very important but difficult when you’re sitting all day is a backbend. So Bridge is essential for me. The second thing that’s important is the rotation of the upper back, so a Seated Twist is part of my practice in order to give a massage to the organs and get the digestion going.” Digestion and diet are important: as anyone who’s even been on a commercial long-haul flight knows, altitude and time zones play tricks on the body. During the day, Borschberg is flying at the same altitude as Everest, connected to an oxygen mask, so “your digestion goes haywire”, comments Bhanot. “The body feels bloated and there’s pressure on the organs. Your breathing is heavy; everything is heavy. With the constant input of information, there’s no time to rest and digest.” Borschberg eats 11 small meals and snacks a day, specially developed over the last four years in order to provide appropriate nutrition and so as to withstand dramatic changes in temperature and climatic conditions. At higher altitudes, he requires more energy and thus eats more carbohydrate; below 3,500 metres, he consumes meals that are higher in protein. Dishes like mushroom risotto, quinoa tabbouleh, rice and chicken with summer vegetables, and a variety of soups such as leek and potato provide, as Solar Impulse’s media relations officer, Elke Neumann, puts
it, “some degree of comfort and reward” on his journey.
Flying Solar Impulse II has other effects on the body that Borschberg counteracts using yoga: the temperature can be +40° celsius during the day under the heat of the sun and as low as -20° at night – so, under the tutelage of Bhanot, he has learnt breathing techniques to deal with this temperature variation. For cooling, he uses Sheetali pranayama in which you roll your tongue and breathe through it to inhale, before exhaling through the nose; Sheetkari
“Flying Solar Impulse II has other effects on the body that Borschberg counteracts using yoga” pranayama is similar, with the exception that the tongue is not rolled and, instead, its tip rests against the upper palate. In order to heat his body, Borschberg uses Suryabhedi and Bhastrika pranayamas; the former is a kind of alternate nostril breathing in which you breathe in through the right nostril, hold, and exhale through the left; in Bhastrika breath – otherwise known in English as ‘Bellows Breath’ – you inhale and exhale forcefully from the diaphragm. Bhastrika is also an energising breath, essential when there’s only time for 20 minutes shuteye 1215 times a day and, otherwise, you have to be constantly alert. Though Borschberg is someone who strives to stay in the present when he flies and when he meditates, he is also a
businessman and, inevitably, must also look to the future. I wonder what he thinks of Stephen Hawking’s recent verdict on mankind: that our future is self-destruction through our misuse of technology. “I have strong feelings about this. On the one side, we have this incredible technology – for example, 3D printing of human organs, crazy things – and the potential is huge, but I don’t think that we are all ready to use them for positive ends. We don’t have, as we say in French, le recule (perspective). Things develop so fast it’s hard to see what’s good for us and how to go about things ethically…I am not sure if we use technology in the best interests of humanity.” So, what is his vision of the future? “I don’t want to sound pessimistic but we are unable to feel the implications of what we do. We play, as we say in French, apprenti sorcier (sorcerer’s apprentice). I am confident of humankind as long as we have good intentions. That’s the question, though.” He sees development and destruction as part of a natural cycle: “The world is made of waves: we go up, we go down. As soon as we improve something, we reach the crest of the wave, and then we begin to drop again.”
Spirit of adventure
Talk of waves and sea brings to mind another Francophone adventurer and yogi, Frenchman Bernard Moitessier, who took part in the infamous 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. It was a race in which competitors strove to be the first to sail solo around the globe without stopping; the physical and mental rigours of the race were such that, of the nine original entrants, five dropped out, one sank, and
om actions another committed suicide. Moitessier, one of the two remaining, taught himself yoga mid-Indian Ocean, using a book someone had left behind at his house and that he happened to have brought on his adventure. By the time he reached the Atlantic on the home leg, he was close to winning but was also having a serious crisis of confidence about returning to Europe. He decided to drop out of the race and sail on to Tahiti – his reason, conveyed via slingshot to a passing ship, being: “parce que je suis heureux en mer et peut-être pour sauver mon âme”, or in English, “because I am happy at sea and perhaps to save my soul”.
Such epic journeys – and the Solar Impulse project is one of these – inevitably spur ontological and theological enquiry in those who brave them. “There’s no such thing as an atheist in the Southern Ocean,” declared the eventual winner of the Golden Globe Race, Robin Knox-Johnston. In yoga, this process of ontological and theological enquiry
might be seen as part of Patanjali’s fourth Niyama, Svadhyaya (or self-study), so I ask Borschberg if he is a religious man. “I am not religious in terms of following rules we created ourselves but I believe in the fact that we are part of something much bigger. We are not individual alone here and there. What this [something bigger] is exactly, I don’t know, but what is clear is that there are forces around us that have an influence. When you do something like this, you encounter obstacles and I felt supported. In fact, I felt like these obstacles gave me an opportunity.” One obstacle has been the overheated batteries that meant that the plane was grounded for months in Hawaii. This, Neumann tells me, was a planning problem, not a design problem: because the completion of the previous leg had been planned for colder weather at an earlier time of year, the plane’s batteries were over-insulated – something that was only realised once the plane was en route. The next phase of travel, from Hawaii to the west coast of the USA, was undertaken in April by
Solar Impulse’s founder, chairman and fellow pilot, Bertrand Piccard, who will deal with the physical and mental hardships through self-hypnosis. To have instigated the Solar Impulse adventure and to imagine a world that uses only clean energy shows that Borschberg and Piccard are both essentially optimists. “There’s no back-up,” Neumann says. “It’s not like there’s a spare tank of gasoline on board.” They have to believe in their project and in its worth. A successful circumnavigation of the globe using only solar power may go part way to securing a cleaner future for the world. If Hawking is worried that science and technology may produce, as he put it in his first BBC Reith Lecture of 2016, “new ways things can go wrong”, Borschberg and Piccard are working on the relationship between science, technology and nature to produce a new way things can go right. Zoë Plöger is a writer and yoga teacher based in the Swiss Engadine: pizyoga.com
SOLAR IMPULSE: THE JOURNEY Flight Flight Flight Flight Flight Flight Flight
1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:
Abu Dhabi to Muscat Muscat to Ahmedabad Ahmedabad to Varanasi Varanasi to Mandalay Mandalay to Chongqing Chongqing to Nanjing Nanjing to Nagoya
Flight Flight Flight Flight Flight Flight
8: Nagoya to Hawaii 9: Hawaii to Mountain View, USA 10: California to Mid USA 11: Mid USA to New York 12: New York to Europe 13: Europe to Abu Dhabi
Life & loves of a yoga teacher Name: Age: Location: Training: Specialism:
Julie Hemmings 51 South Staffordshire BWY qualifying in 1998 Pregnancy yoga; mother & baby yoga
Describe yourself as a colour I would probably say I am more of a rainbow – a spectrum of colours. All the colours of the rainbow are me at different times. I have the sort of personality that’s hard to pin down. Best part of the day In the spring and summer I love getting up early in the morning to appreciate a blue sky and the birds singing. My profession as a yoga teacher keeps me indoors so I love to break out when I can and enjoy an early morning walk before I have my first classes. I love to feel the expanse of the horizon and to appreciate the peace and quiet of the fields near where I live. Favourite meal Thai curry. I love spices and add cayenne pepper and chilli to most of my foods to make them lively. I also love fresh salads and eat lots of fish, especially sea food. But curry is definitely my favourite. Thrills and spills My most scary adventure happened in Costa Rica in the early 1990s, where I was living and studying as part of my degree. We spent a weekend trekking through Corcovado National Park, when a tapir suddenly came out of the rainforest and starting chasing us and trying to bite us. I’d never seen one before, and didn’t even know what it was. It was trying to attack us, and we eventually ran into the sea to get away from it. When we told the park rangers at the campsite, they thought the whole episode was hilarious because tapirs are incredibly shy, peaceful, vegetarian creatures. We laugh about it now! Favourite film I have lots of favourites: Apocalypse Now, Barbarella, The Shawshank Redemption and Moulin Rouge…I could go on! Favorite book That’s an easy one: The Lord of the Rings. I found the book totally absorbing; I
OM writer Lesley Dawn quizzes yoga teachers up and down the country to reveal their life and loves
didn’t want to go and see the film as I was worried the images wouldn’t match the ones in my head. I used to travel to work reading it and can honestly say for a month ( I read the trilogy from beginning to end) I was almost ‘in’ the book – my everyday life was totally in the background. I went on the journey with them – so much so that when I finished the book I cried because I felt I had lost my friends. It‘s a magical, superbly written tale and I had a real sense of loss when I finished it. Secret escape I’m a total beach bum, I’d go anywhere with a beach. As long as I can lay on some warm sand and look at the sea, I’m happy. A beautiful tropical beach with two palm trees to sling a hammock across, and a good book to read. Perfect. Someone who has inspired you At the moment I am inspired by Natalie Sisson, the ‘Suitcase Entrepreneur’. I’d love to become a digital nomad and run my business from anywhere in the world…maybe, one day. Cannot live without My yoga mat. I know it’s a bit predictable for a yoga teacher but I’d be lost without my practice. Oh, and a good book.
Teacher zone A deeper understanding of yoga... for teachers, by teachers
FLEXIBILITY MYTH Understanding the role of fascia and over-stretching in our yoga practice. By Sandra Carson
ometimes in class, when I see my students struggling to grab their toes in Pachimottasana (seated forward bend) I jokingly remind them: “There is no prize; you will not get enlightened when you reach your toes.” Although that usually gets a chuckle or two, students rarely back off and continue to try to pull themselves deeper into the pose, to stretch beyond where they are. The argument I hear most from people that say they are interested in yoga but have never tried it, is: “I am too stiff to do yoga”. Of course, they could just be giving a polite, but unnecessary, excuse to not want to practice. Not practicing yoga because of inflexibility may be the poorest excuse out there. In fact, being ‘stiff’ may prove to be an asset in your practice. The reality is, however, that in the media and also among yoga classes and teachers, there is a huge emphasis on flexibility. So much so that it seems like a prerequisite to begin practicing. There are very few yoga teachers in the public eye that cannot do a full split or bend in a pretzel shape. We now seem to have created the situation where flexibility equals being a good yoga practitioner or teacher. For a long time I also believed this to be true. I have come a long way since then, and feel like maybe it is time to start countering this widely held belief. I have been a yoga teacher for almost 15 years. Yoga is an integral part of my life. Yoga has made me very flexible and has had a good and healthy impact on my body and soul overall. And granted, being bendy looks good in photos, and people are impressed that I can reach beyond my toes. But whether or not that equals ‘good yoga’ is another question.
No pain, no gain
Over the years, over-stretching my body has been the cause of numerous yoga-induced injuries. I have had so many, I can hardly count
them: over-stretched inner thighs, hamstrings, shoulders, and so on. For over six years, my overused and overstretched psoas caused radiating pain in my torso and low back. All those years I tried to heal myself by aligning, strengthening and practicing yoga. Then it occurred to me I might be doing too much; too much yoga and way too much stretching. But not all ancient yoga teachings advise taking yoga to the extreme. Doug Keller, an expert in yoga therapy and yoga philosophy and history, states that Tantric yoga scriptures teach moderatation. This moderation applies
“The argument I hear most from people that say they are interested in yoga but have never tried it, is: ‘I am too stiff to do yoga’.” to every aspect of life: eating, socialising, meditating, practicing asana. This wisdom does not appear to have carried over into the modern day view on mainstream yoga. We are bombarded with images of yogis in ever more extreme poses, looking very radiant and peaceful. These images seem to suggest that the more you practice, the more flexible you become, the better yogi you are and the happier you will be. But if we take a closer look, you may be shocked to learn this may not hold true. Let us take a look at the technicalities and effects of stretching in the body.
What is ‘stretching’ anyway? Stretching is a word that fascia expert Tom Meyers doesn’t like; technically it is not something that you are doing. In performing a yoga pose, you are exerting strain on (various parts of) your body. This strain is distributed
along certain lines, and pulls on the muscles, tissues and joints, along a network of connective tissue. To really understand what we are doing, we need to make a distinction between putting strain on the muscles and the fascia, or connective tissue. When coming into a stretch, the body responds first by a freeze reaction, known as the ‘stretch reflex’, in which the muscles initially protest against the strain. Depending on your condition and routine, this strain releases after about one to three minutes. Muscle is elastic by nature and when the stretch reflex subsides and the fibres of the muscle release, the muscle will go to a more lengthened state. This is the normal expansion and contraction of a muscle and therefore is not really a ‘stretch’. Once the ‘stretch’ is over, the muscle will contract again to its natural state. So nothing much has really structurally changed in the muscle. However it is different story in the connective tissue. After the stretch reflex releases, the fibres of connective tissue, which are more inelastic, will start to ‘glide’ to a more extended, more lengthened state. In contrast to the muscles, the connective tissue fibres reattach in this extended state. Connective tissue stretches in a way somewhat similar to how plastic stretches; if done slowly and evenly, the fibres will come into a new form or shape and keep that shape. But if done too fast or uneven, the plastic will tear. But to keep it simple; we will use the term ‘stretching’ to describe this process of altering the form of the body.
Types of fascia
Fascia is found everywhere in the body. It holds your skeleton together, encases your organs, nerves and muscles. It is even found in your eyes! Fascia also exchanges information to the brain through the many nerves that run through the tissue. For the yoga practitioner, three types of fascia are important to keep in mind: the ligaments, the tendons and the
Teacher zone F L E X I B I L I T Y MYTH
myofascia. The ligaments are connective tissue that connects your bones. This tissue is very fibrous, strong and inelastic and meant to hold bones together and stabilise the joints. The tendons connect the muscles in your body to the bones or connect muscle to muscle. This fascia is less thick and fibrous, and is less inelastic, but is also not meant to stretch. Myofascia runs though your muscles and encases your muscles in compartments, much like an orange having different parts. The myofascia holds the muscle bundles together.
Benefits of stretching
Stretching your body is a good thing. When the muscles are stretched and the myofascia is under tension, especially when the body is well aligned, it’s a healthy thing; it promotes circulation and therefore keeps the joints and muscles flexible and juicy. It speeds up elimination of toxins and keeps the body supple and vibrant. In addition, connective tissue is responsible for your body awareness. Supple and hydrated fascia give you a sense of spaciousness and connectedness to your body as the nerves in the fascia can optimally communicate with your brain. Furthermore, the connective tissue in your body is also partly responsible for your proprioception, your body’s sense of where it is in space and how it relates to itself. Doing yoga and stretching muscles certainly contribute to body awareness and overall good health. But you can also enjoy these benefits without being able to put your legs behind your head.
In my experience, flexible people are in general more at risk to injure themselves than stiff people when practicing yoga. Many bendy students have a tendency to bypass a core stability and integrity in their body, When stretching in a yoga pose, the strain
is not isolated, but pulls on a whole system of connective tissue, which leaves them vulnerable to over-stretching of the weaker parts. This can lead to nasty and sometimes chronic situations, which I have seen a few of in my years of teaching. Yoga practitioners striving for more and more flexibility increase their risk of tendon, ligament and joint overstretching, with all its consequences.
The potential damage
Over-stretching the muscle is probably the least damaging, unless done so in a dramatic fashion, where muscles tear. Every time you have experienced ‘sore muscles’ after yoga or exercise, you have torn your muscle fibres. Micro tears in the muscles are normal with exercise and heal quickly. Muscles have good blood flow which allows regenerating cells to work efficiently and fast. These micro muscle tears are different from tendon tears, which are quite common in yoga because of overstretching. This type of tear takes a lot longer to heal (up to a year is not uncommon). Over-stretching ligaments takes the damage one step further and in some cases can lead to chronically unstable joints; too much pulling on the joints when stretching is probably the riskiest kind of overdoing it and the one that has the longest lasting effect on the body. A few examples of overstretched tendons and ligaments are hamstring attachment tears, also known as ‘yoga butt’. This is quite common and often caused by extreme forward bending or hipflexion poses, such as Uttanasana (standing forward bends) or Pachimottanasana (seated forward bends) variations or asymmetrical hamstring stretches such as Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (extended standing hand to big toe pose). An example of ligament overstretching is over-stretching the legs in poses that put the sacroiliac joint (between the two
sides of the sacrum at the back of the pelvis) or the lower back under too much pressure, which can then dislocate and cause a host of problems in both the legs and the spine, such as radiating pain in the pelvic area or sciatic nerve pain. This can be caused by extreme stretching in variations of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one legged king pigeon pose) or Ardha Matseyendrasana (half seated spinal twist). Many teachers have only limited knowledge about the potential dangers of stretching and so will encourage students to move deeper into a pose than what may be healthy. Having stiff muscles, or more accurately, less flexible fascia, constricts your mobility, and at the same time, protects your joints and ligaments from overexertion. The stability of your body protects you against injuries like the ones described above. You may never do a full split, but you will probably never destabilise your sacroiliac joint either. So the next time you are encouraged to stretch yourself beyond your limit, stop for a moment and consider what you are trying to achieve.
Honour your yoga body
While it may seem otherwise, it is not my intention to scare you away from yoga with this article. The benefits of practicing largely outweigh the risks associated with the practice. It’s not the practice of yoga that is the issue, but how we practice yoga. We can get so fixated on getting somewhere, becoming something, that we bypass ourselves and unconsciously put our health at risk. We tend to forget that the most valuable part of our yoga practice is simply listening to our bodies. There is no such thing as ‘a yoga body’. There is just your body. And that body is perfect for yoga. Find out more about Sandra Carson at: livingalignmentyoga.com
Teacher zone TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN STRETCHING: LISTEN: Pay attention and relax. Try to feel your body before going into active stretching. Do you notice any compression in parts of your body? Are your joints open or locked? Do parts of your body feel vulnerable or sensitive? Are you holding your breath and tension in your body? The better you listen to your body, the better you learn to stretch. ALIGN: Feel and root down through your bones and skeleton. Muscles work most optimally when the bones are well aligned in their joints. Aligning the bones will reduce unnecessary tension because you primarily rely on the stability of your skeleton rather than your muscular system. Keep all your joints open; in particular, knees, wrists, elbows, shoulders and spine. GO SLOWLY: Over stretching is easily done when you rush into the pose. When you are in a hurry, is this because you are not fully present and attentive? Are you bringing your stressful office day onto your mat? Or is it because the pose is maybe a bit beyond your ability and you want to do it anyway? Going slowly allows you to see your motivation more clearly and shows you where your limits are. BOUNDARIES: Work within your limits, not right up to or over them. You have two edges – a hard edge and a soft edge. Work in the space between these two boundaries. Doing so will enable you to stretch for a longer period of time (this increases the chance of creating structural change) and keeps your body safer in the pose. USE PROPS: Props are largely considered by yogis to be for the inexperienced practitioner or only used “when you cannot properly do yoga.” You can do yourself a big favour by dropping the arguments you may have against props. Props are your friend; they help you to feel more (like a block between the inner thighs), to support you and give stability. People come in all different sizes and dimensions, yogis too! Using two blocks in Uttanasana, if you have long legs and shorter arms is just using common sense. ENGAGE: In a dynamic, active class, always, always engage your muscles to stabilise your joints and muscles before actively stretching your body. Many injuries stem from the lack of proper engagement in the body. Activation of your muscles compresses the muscle fibres so the muscle becomes shorter, which reduces the risk of unsafe stretching. ENJOY: How do you feel in the pose and in the stretch? Are you struggling? Are you bored? Or does the pose make you feel vibrant and alive? Enjoying and feeling pleasure in your body is the reason a yoga practice is so deliciously juicy! Safe stretching is a big part of that. When you stretch, there could be this feeling of opening part of you that has not been seen for a while, that has not moved and feels numb or stuck. Addressing these parts of your body should be a very satisfying aspect of your practice, and a motivator to come back to your mat again and again.
Teacher zone F L E X I B I L I T Y MYTH
Stretching the hips in standing poses
‘Hanging’ in the hips by allowing the back leg to drop to the floor creates unbalanced tension in the hip flexors and potentially compresses the sacroiliac joint when stretching.
Draw the legs to the midline and lift the back leg to create a safe stretch in the hip flexors. Engage the lower belly muscles to align the pelvis and sacrum. Now, from the centre of the pelvis, stretch out through both legs and up through the spine.
Stretching in Adho Mukha Svanasana
Dropping the arms toward the floor while pressing the chest down and ‘hanging’ in the shoulders pulls the shoulder blades off the back ribcage. This compresses the shoulder joints and can be damaging to the rotator cuff muscles. Lack of muscular engagement in the legs and excessive forward tilt of the pelvis expose the hamstrings to overstretching.
Press the hands evenly in the floor to engage the arm muscles in a balanced way. From the hands draw the muscles up ‘into the shoulders.’ Lift the arms away from the floor to draw the shoulder blades on the back. Press your feet into the floor and engage the leg muscles to press the top of the thighbones and sit bones back. Then draw the belly in and from the sternum, stretch out to the hands and to the feet
Teacher zone Stretching in Uttanasana
When the pelvis is behind the ankles it promotes ‘hanging’ in the pelvis and hamstrings. This misalignment and lack of muscular engagement compresses the hip flexors in the front, creates excessive pressure in the sacroiliac joint and increases the risk of over stretching in the back of the legs and pelvis.
Aligning with a block
Bring the pelvis directly over your feet. Use a block to engage the inner thighs, ‘hug into your midline’ and activate the leg muscles. Keep the knees soft and press the (inner) thighs and sit bones back until the pelvis tips forward and the sacrum is the highest point in the pose (for people with tighter hamstrings and inner thighs, bend the knees as much as needed until the forward tilt happens). Draw the lower belly in and hug the outer hips, until you feel a ‘lift’ in the front body.
Keep this alignment and stability in the legs, outer hips and belly, now press down from the centre of your pelvis to your feet and from the pelvis lengthen through your spine and crown of your head.
Stretching in Bujangasana
Lack of muscular engagement in the inner thigh muscles, separates the legs away from the midline, compresses the sacrum and creates excessive lumbar extension (arching). Unengaged hand and arm muscles build up pressure in the wrist joints and allows the arm bones to move to the front of the body. This creates compression in the shoulder joint and upper back. Pressing the head into the neck creates compression in the neck and overstretching in the throat.
Aligning with a block
Use a block between the inner thighs to help create stability in the core line of the body. Activate your inner thighs by pressing into the block and ‘roll’ the leg bones inward. This helps to align the legs, the pelvis and the lower back. To protect and stabilise the lower back in the backbend, draw the lower belly muscles in.
Keep the alignment and stability in the legs. Lengthen the sides of your waistline and release your shoulders down. Press the hands (or fingertips) into the floor and activate the arm muscles from the hands into the shoulders. Draw the shoulder blades onto the back. From the engaged arms and legs and core, now move your chest forward (not straight up!) between your arms. From your pelvis stretch out evenly through legs and spine.
Teacher zone Teacher’s Tales:
Teaching yoga is a practice Theory is important, but teaching is everything. By Paula Hines Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Teaching yoga is a practice, an ongoing one at that. From the first time I guided a fellow teachertrainee in and out of a pose on my first training it became very clear that teaching is not easy. This realisation hit home for all of us. Weaving together all the elements of a class is difficult. And, of course, teaching is about more than asana. Good things take time and no amount of training courses can buy the experience gained from actually teaching. Theory is incredibly worthwhile but it is not the same as the practical reality. The way I teach now is certainly different to how I taught in my first year of teaching and no doubt my teaching will continue to evolve, as I continue to share the little that I know so far. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be teaching yoga one day I would have laughed in your face. Public speaking of any kind was my worst nightmare. I once turned down an invitation to speak to students at Oxford University such was my fear. Even with colleagues I worked with every day it was a challenge. If I were required to speak in a meeting, my voice would audibly shake. Naturally, I never imagined that
teaching of any kind would be on the cards for me in the future. Fast forward to the present day and with almost five years of teaching under my belt, the more I have taught, the more I have been able to find my voice, quite literally. The largest class I’ve taught to date was with one hundred people for a special event. I could not have envisaged this in the years Before Teaching Yoga (B.T.Y). A big part of my teaching practice is in trying to express myself with honesty and not as a version of how one presumes a yoga teacher should be. Within that is asking myself regularly what I am teaching and why. Self-enquiry is important, I feel. One of my favourite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “When you know better, you do better.” As I continue to learn and practice, I hope that with each step I am becoming a better teacher than before and I hope I am always smart enough to keep a beginner’s mind.
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)
books Yoga Quest
Paul Fox £12.99 Core Strength Yoga A new novel by long-established teacher Paul Fox, Yoga Quest tells the story of Joe Knightly who must find out what yoga is really about before getting his hands on an inherited fortune. A quest he begins reluctantly turns into the most transformative two years of his life. The book is aimed at anyone with a serious interest in yoga and conveys a goldmine of information about the ancient discipline via a compelling story rather than through a textbook. Launched at this year’s British Wheel of Yoga annual congress.
Further reading: How To Be Well: Use Your Own Natural Resources To Get Well And Stay Well For Life Abby Wynne £10.99 Hay House
A practical book for reducing stress to improve health, find peace and gain purpose. In her work as a shamanic psychotherapist, Abby Wynne helps people to release repetitive patters of stress and create space for wellness and happiness. This book includes many of her methods for readers to take their wellbeing into their own hands. Learn how to heal relationships, release stress and anxiety and achieve vibrant health and reach your full potential in life. Includes plenty of practical exercises, meditations and ceremonies.
The Yoga Kitchen Kimberly Parsons £20 Quadrille
Over 100 vegetarian recipes to energise the body, balance the mind and make for a happier you. The Yoga Kitchen teaches you how to nourish your mind, strengthen your body and improve your health through bringing more balance into your life. Written by Kimberly Parsons, a trained naturopath and chef and the owner and founder of The Retreat Cafes, which offer health conscious vegetarian food at yoga studios in London. Indulge in healthy recipes such as Chocolate and Maca Quinoa Pops or High-Jacked Sweet Potato with Avocado, Pomegranate and Coconut. The book is divided into the chakras: Parsons breaks down the seven energy centres and explains how we can support each one through our diets.
Yoga is for every body Your pictures. Your community Max, the family retriever, causing havoc on the mat
Down by the river: Yasmin Strong in boat pose
Lara Newton and pooch
Charlie...in cat pose
Lynn Yann and Lola, Kos Island, Greece
Three yogi generations
om actions Nicky Grace near Tromso in northern Norway
Happy Birthday: Jen O’Neill’s 29th birthday cake
Park life: Nimita Bhatt
Nature yoga in Ecuador
We want your photos!
Send us happy shots, fun pics, great asana (or bad asana!), big smiley faces, anything at all – and see them in OM Magazine. It doesn’t have to be you doing a yoga pose either. We want to see your yoga life: a pre-class group hug, a cup of tea after class, what you got up to at the weekend, send them all via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Awe-inspiring retreats and ideas for yoga explorers
Yemaya here we come A yoga adventure of a lifetime on Little Corn Island off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast Nicaragua may not be the first name that rolls off the tongue when you’re thinking about where to go next on your yoga travels, but it’s well worth some consideration. Yemaya Resort has become a premiere retreat location that has brought in such illustrious names as Seane Corn and Meghan Currie, two of America’s finest yoga exports. The venue boasts a pristine location - it’s on the remote Little Corn Island in the Caribbean just off the Nicaraguan coast - with untouched, unspoiled beaches and a focus on organic sustainability and wellness, that’s long attracted top yoga talent. With 16 eco-luxury ocean side cabanas to enjoy, and with plenty of dates lined up through 2016, maybe it’s time to put Nicaragua on the map. Stretch out on a shady hammock, sip on fresh coconut water and explore the area’s lush jungles and crystal clear waters as you explore your inner self on your yoga journey. UPCOMING DATES May 26 - June 1 Little Corn Island Spring Yoga Retreat June 18-25 Yoga on the Caribbean Sea with Dave Larot July 30 - Aug 6 Yoga Central’s 4th Annual Retreat Oct 21-27 Ground and Glide Retreat to Nicaragua Oct 28 - Nov 4 Divine Nature and the 5 Elements Nov 30 - Dec 8 2nd Annual Tropical Radiance Retreat Visit: littlecornhotel.com
om travel Fit at 50 New wellbeing retreats launched for the over 50s at Lincolnshire’s Thorganby Hall Yoga teacher, therapist and wellbeing coach Suzy Walgate is launching a series of ‘Fit for 50’ retreats, designed for the over 50’s. The retreats take place at the 5 star Boutique Eco Retreat, Thorganby Hall, in the tranquillity of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The venue is equipped with everything you’d expect in a quality yoga retreat including swimming pool, sauna and hot tub. Walgate says she has designed her retreats to provide guests with a toolbox for a healthy lifestyle that they can take away with them, based on all the key pillars of health and wellbeing - movement, sleep, hydration, mindset, breathing and nutrition. The idea, she says, is to put a spring in your step and to get that ‘yippee’ factor back into your life. “My retreats are designed to transform not inform,” she says. “I want my guests to bound out of my retreats, empowered, full of energy and inspiration.” As well as lots of yoga, expect other treatments and therapies including EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), tapping, meditation and massage, plus organic, vegetarian, healthy food. And don’t worry if you haven’t hit the 50 milestone yet (you lucky thing!), as there are also retreats planned for adults of all ages.
UPCOMING DATES June 27 – July 1 (Fit at 50 retreat) September 5-9 (adults over 18 years) September 19-23 (Fit at 50 retreat) October 10-14 (adults over 18 years) suzywalgate.co.uk
The Sak Yant experience Head to Thailand for sacred Sak Yant tattoos in style Taking a trip to Thailand might seem excessive for those wanting a tattoo, but The Siam in Bangkok offers something a bit special. The plush hotel has opened a space dedicated to the much-revered sacred art of Sak Yant tattoos, a 2,000-year-old tradition thought to have originated in ancient Cambodia, but now popular across southeast Asia. The tattoos are believed to have mystical powers, helping to bring good luck and protect from evil spirits. Having witnessed an increase in interest in the ancient art from visitors - and even arranged Sak Yant expeditions for high-profile inkloving guests such as Cara Delevingne and Michelle Rodriguez - The Siam has now installed its own specialist Sak Yant studio, headed by master tattooist Arjan Boo. Boo was trained in the traditional art by an esteemed abbot at the Buddhist temple of Wat Bang Phra, the prime pilgrimage spot for those who want to have their body adorned with spiritual Sak Yant ink designs. At the new Sak Yant parlour, in the resort’s Opium Spa, tattoos range from ancient geometric sigils to vivid animal or magical deity figures, which have evolved into Brahmanist and Buddhist prayers.
Most famous of them all, thanks in no small part to its high-profile position on Angelina Jolie’s shoulder blade, is the Hah Taew or 5 Lines Yant. This particular design goes back over 700 years to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna (now northern Thailand) and features five meaningful lines of script, each designed to provide protection and benefits to the wearer. After the tattoo, guests can visit the Wat Bang Phra, about an hour outside Bangkok, to have their body art blessed, before returning home with a permanent and deeply significant reminder of their trip. FACT FILE Prices for a Sak Yant tattoo at The Siam start from £600 for a smaller design and from £1,200 for a larger design, which includes translation between Arjan Boo and the client as well as supplies and offerings for the master. Visits to Wat Bang Phra incur an additional charge. Cleveland Collection (clevelandcollection.co.uk) offer a 4 night stay at The Siam, Bangkok from £1,339.00 per person sharing. Includes economy flights, private transfers and B&B accommodation.
of Rishikesh OM explores the incredible Rishikesh International Yoga Festival with leading teachers Francesca Cassia and Roberto Milletti
ore than 1,000 participants from India and abroad, representing over 80 nationalities, plus 40 of the best-known masters of the yoga world all came together for this year’s Rishikesh International Yoga Festival (IYF). The week-long festival, which takes place every year in early March, is renowned for drawing people together from around the world, bringing them back to yoga’s spiritual home. Rishikesh has been dubbed the yoga capital of the world, a small city on the banks of the Ganga, and in the lap of the Himalayas – the birthplace of yoga. A place where for thousands of years, saints, sages and rishi have performed their meditation, their yoga, and their sadhana in search of enlightenment. It was The Beatles, of course, that made Rishikesh famous around the world back in 1968, in their quest for spirituality. They spent time at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram and practiced transcendental meditation, diving into Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Ringo Starr stayed only for a short time (famously packing tins of baked beans in his luggage, to enjoy home comforts on the road), while Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed longer. During their sojourn in the ashram, the band crafted songs that would later appear on legendary albums such as Abbey Road and Let It Be. Today, Rishikesh is where many westerners seeking an authentic yoga
om travel experience stay because it has so many guesthouses, restaurants and ashrams where you can study to become a trained instructor. Forests, waterfalls and small beaches on the banks of the Ganga surround the city, which make for a beautiful learning environment.
During the week of the IYF, Swamis and laymen dive every morning into the sacred river honouring tradition. Thousands of people gather together as well as cows and monkeys in a perfect balance between sacred and profane, where the yoga trend and the true search for the meaning of life mingle together. Mantras, singing bowls and yoga music are the soundtrack of this incredible experience that leaves a lasting impression on everyone present. The IYF has been held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram (which translated means simply ‘heaven’) since 1999. We began our journey with Uttar Pradesh Tourism, which continued to run the festival after the modern state of Uttarakhand was formed. It was Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati’s inspiration and vision that has led to this event expanding and blossoming into this marvellous experience we all enjoy today. He has been committed to the vision that while people can learn yoga in studios across the world, it is on the banks of Mother Ganga, in the lap of the Himalayas, in the birthplace of yoga, where people from all walks of life can come to not only learn the teachings but also experience the divine touch and transformation of yoga. It is also with the brilliant support and organisational skills of Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, an incredible American woman with a PhD in science from Stanford University, who has dedicated her extraordinary life to the service of India and her guru Pujya Swami, who both have helped boost spiritual mindfulness. This year saw the 28th festival with students, yagacharyas, academics, sages and yoga masters from different schools of
om travel yoga gather together in ‘the land of God, the land of Shiva’ (Shiva is considered the first ever yogi known to the world and the Himalayas are the abode of Shiva).
The IYF is a homecoming to a worldwide community of people who have fallen in love with yoga and Rishikesh itself. The week-long festival starts every March 1 and welcomes experts from all yoga disciplines and schools, including Ashtanga, Raja Yoga, Kundalini, Iyengar Yoga, Odaka Yoga, and many more. There are also a wide variety of classes on meditation, Sanskrit chanting, and Indian philosophy. It is a beautiful time of seeing the world come together in the name of yoga and union – it is a union of countries, cultures, colours and creeds, a union of different lineages of yoga, a union of masters and seekers. During this transformative and sacred week, everyone practices asana, pranayama, meditation, dharsan and satsang and much more. It is a place that unites the inner self with the Divine. You will absorb the power of Aarti rituals at sunset where you can return the light of gratefulness with joy, reverence and peace through the fire purifying puja; this fire that symbolically burns daily impurities.
This year, the IYF hosted some of the best-known international teachers from around the yoga world: Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti Yoga, from New York; Laura Plumb an ayuverdic practitioner and co-founder of Deep Yoga from California; Akira Watamoto from Japan; and Gurmukh Kaur Khals the Kundalini Yoga icon from Golden Bridge, California. Also present were Pujya Mooji, the renowned Advaita Master, and Bruce Lipton, a biology pioneer who came to spread the knowledge of his work, The Biology of Belief, as well as other esteemed experts. When asked for the reason why they all come to teach almost every year in the name of Seva (karma teaching) the answer is simple. Citing Swami: “Giving is living, living is learning, learning is knowing, knowing is growing, growing is giving and giving is living. That is the cycle of life.” Next year do not miss the opportunity to be there in person and imbibe in the sacred energy of the IYF for yourself.
The next International Yoga Festival at Rishikesh takes place during March 1-7, 2017 (internationalyogafestival.com) Francesca Cassia and Roberto Milletti are the co-founders of Odaka Yoga (Odakayoga.com)
60 SECONDS WITH PUJYA SWAMI CHIDAN AND SARASWATI Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Pujya Swami) is a world-renowned spiritual leader and president of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, one of India’s largest interfaith spiritual institutions. He is also active for a number of charitable causes such as Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an alliance of interfaith leaders for water, sanitation and hygiene, and founded Ganga Action Parivar that leads the massive Clean Ganges Movement. TELL US THE BACKGROUND TO THE IYF Over these past 17 years at Parmarth Niketan, the festival has grown tremendously to become the premier annual yoga event in India. Each year, dozens of world-renowned yoga experts from many countries around the world come to Rishikesh to impart this ancient yet timeless science and wisdom to participants from every corner of the globe. WHAT ARE THE FESTIVAL’S MAIN AIMS The aim is to illustrate that yoga is more than just a physical practice. It is to create the atmosphere in which people can realise that yoga is truly union - not just the union of our nose to our knees but of ourselves to the Divine. By bringing people from all across the globe to join together in learning asanas from world-class teachers as well as Divine discourses, the presence of revered and beloved yogis, yogacharyas, faith leaders and saints are here and we all illustrate the inherent oneness and union of yoga. In this sacred space of interfaith harmony and peace many friendships have been formed and many walls have been broken down between people from countries with traditionally adversarial relationships. This is the atmosphere where genuine friendships and relationships can be formed and maintained as well as the seeds of world peace, both inner and outer peace, can be planted.
TELL US ABOUT THE CHARITY ASPECTS A lot of the service projects taking place under Parmarth’s vision and inspiration have to do with ensuring access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene (such as WASH), as well as protecting the sources of our fresh water – of our sacred, life-giving rivers. During the IYF, we remind participants that yoga is not what you do but it is what you are. So, when children all over the world are dying from lack of access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene then we, as yogis, with the understanding that we are all one family, must act to serve to eradicate this preventable and tragic situation. Additionally, as so much of the inspiration and Divine energy comes from the sacred River Ganges, we also engage participants with serving to clean up her banks, plant trees along her catchment or other activities. This is to remind them that no matter where they are, if they can be more conscious, more green in their way of living, taking less and giving more, then all of our rivers, our sacred pilgrimages and our planet could be a better, brighter place for everyone.
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Seeing yourself in the mirror and on the mat for the first time can be a moment to remember…or forget. By Victoria Jackson
’m not usually one for practicing in front of a mirror. I try to cultivate an inner sense of where I need to be in each asana, feeling where my feet are in relation to my knees and hips, finding some place of ease for my shoulders by trying different hand positions, and so on. Compared to working with these subtle sensations, the mirror seems something of a cheating short-cut, a soft option. But unusually I found myself recently in a hot yoga studio where the walls were covered with mirrors and seeing my reflection was inescapable. Once I’d got over the shock of seeing myself in small shorts and with a very red face, I decided to go with it and see how having a mirror might inform my practice. I don’t mean checking out if I looked amazing (I didn’t, ever, of course), but I wondered how it might help me observe my alignment. Having a mirror quickly allowed me to spot some unevennesses and begin to learn to self-adjust. For example, I usually use my hands to feel where my hips are when I come into Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and I try to align myself well by how it feels in my body. Now having the mirror made it easier to be sure my hips were even, simply by looking straight ahead.
In fact, I found the mirror so informative that I changed my usual spot for home practice and set up my mat in front of the mirrored wardrobe doors. I have had some fun assessing my practice. I’ve already stopped trying to go so far in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose) because I can see how pulled out of alignment I am. Softly, softly in this one now – I look in danger of a shoulder dislocation! Similarly Trikonasana (Triangle) has always been a tricky pose for me and the mirror is helping me find a more comfortable shape and start to reprogramme my habitual way of moving into this pose. But the mirror’s already showing its limitations and driving me a bit mad with the asanas that don’t reveal themselves so easily. The hilarious thing is that in contorting myself before the mirror trying to check what my lower back might be doing just out of sight, I’ve gone and pulled something in my neck! Ouch! So I’m back to where I started: tuning in, often with my eyes closed, trying to feel my way in every moment. I’ll come back to the mirror another day.
Victoria Jackson will forever be a beginner yogini
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