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OM Magazine Issue 61, May 2016 Published by:
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COVER: Eleonora Zampatti (eleonorazampatti.com) photographed for the cover of OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine issue 61 by Claire Sheprow (findorionphoto.com) 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.
The month of May is one of my favourite times of the year. Why so, you ask? Actually, it’s nothing to do with maypoles, morris dancing, or other curious olde English traditions. No, it’s more that the likelihood of seeing the sun in the sky goes up around this time. Throw in lighter nights, some warmer weather and nature bursting into life and you’ve got a recipe for fabulousness. And, if it’s May, then that means it’s time for the Manchester OM Yoga Show (May 20-22). This is now firmly fixed on the annual yoga calendar, so come along if you can. You’ll find lots of free, fun-filled classes throughout the weekend with top teachers, plus workshops, meditation, yummy food, and lots, lots more. Come and say hi to the OM team as well. We’ll be offering lots of free goodies to our lovely subscribers, so don’t be shy. If you can’t wait, then we’ve got lots more fantastic yoga goodies for you inside this issue. That includes an exclusive interview with Granville Cousins, one of Manchester’s best-loved yoga teachers. Check it out on page 34 (and be sure to check out his classes at the show too, if you do make it to Manchester). If it’s inspiration you’re after then you should also read this month’s OMFM (OM For Men) lead story starting on page 48, about the work of the Help for Heroes charity and how it is helping former combat vets like Josh Boggi, who’s featured in the article. This yoga is powerful stuff, you know…in fact, the charity is looking for more people keen to share the yoga message with others suffering from PTSD and other challenges. And, if you haven’t discovered the yoga secret yet, now’s the time to find out. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of the couch…yes, we have even made it possible to get a decent yoga workout from your sofa (page 40). We’re showcasing some of the best yoga mats on the market inside too so you can pick one that’s just right for you. There’s plenty of other yoga to keep your practice fresh and alive on the mat too, as well as meditation, yoga travel ideas, plus food and nutrition advice. Have a wonderful month.
OM in 30 seconds “Yoga helps our wounded manage their physical and emotional state, and enables them to regain a sense of calm and peace and to see obstacles as manageable challenges.” Helping the heroes (Page 48) “As a student of yoga, be guided by your own body, integrating new foods and any supplements into a balanced and holistic healthy lifestyle.” Meet the superfoods (Page 53)
This month’s competitions & subscription Win a suunto diving watch worth £425!
See page 69
Zoe is a yoga teacher, writer and literature teacher who lives near St Moritz. She cares passionately about mental health; her intention is to help people through yoga and meditation to cope with a noisy, busy world and to give them the time, space and peace to learn to be with themselves. She has written for The Observer, The F.T. and The Scotsman; was shortlisted for Vogue New Young Writer and is a winner of the Orange Short Story Prize. www.pizyoga.com
“Self-motivation can be nearly impossible when negative thoughts are running the show. Once we analyse and see where we’ve sabotaged ourselves we can start working towards rebuilding a healthy practice.” Take the power back (Page 72)
Win tickets to the OM Yoga Show Manchester
Josh spent three years as a monk in London and elsewhere before returning to his native New Zealand to edit adventure magazines. He now lives in the Austrian Alps, and writes for various clients in the outdoor adventure scene. Slow and transformational long distance hikes are his passion. Last year, for example, he walked the 850 km Camino del Norte. Yoga is central to his daily life. He teaches once a week and is completing a one year teacher’s training course.
A dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher from London, Paula writes our regular Teacher’s Tales column. She is also a freelance writer with a decade’s worth of experience in comedy script development and comedy writing credits for CBBC, Radio 4 and BBC Three. Find out more about Paula at: ucanyoga.co.uk
See page 109
Subscription Subscribe today to OM Magazine and receive a FOCUS Therapy Balm (worth £14.50)*
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Plus many more inside…
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 “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung
Visit us at Stand D8 at the OM Yoga Show in Manchester
May 2016 OM Regulars 5
My Secret Place
Yoga Changed My Life
Yoga Takes Over The World
What’s Your Affirmation
The Home Retreat
Yoga & Aromatherapy: Rose Oil
Contents Cover Story
52 Superfood Special Report: Meet The Superfoods
54 Get Some In:
Supplements For A Balanced Diet
56 The Maca Factor:
The Peruvian Wonderfood
58 Take Time For Turmeric: The Ultimate Super Spice
60 Ayurvedic Guide To Superfoods: Superfood Choices By Dosha Type
62 Avocado Oil From Africa:
20 OM Loves: Beautiful Things For Beautiful People 22
Fashion: Daydream Believer
The Rise of Avocado Oil
OM Yoga Show Preview 65 Introducing... The OM Yoga Show Manchester
115 OM Books: Great yoga reads 116 Yoga Is For Every Body: Your Photos.
What’s On: Classes And Workshops
130 OM Lite: The Soundtrack Of Yoga
Yoga At Home
OM Meets…Granville Cousins
Make ‘Em Laugh: Laughter Yoga
40 Sofa, So Good: Yoga Workout On The Couch 44
Yoga Therapy: Earache
T Is For Tapas
OM FM Cover Story
48 Helping The Heroes: The Role Of Yoga At Charity Help For Heroes
51 Man On The Mat: Extended Bound Side Angle Pose
OM Superfoods Special
Competitions And Exhibitors
70 Get Rid Of The Guilt: Meditation Of The Month
72 Take The Power Back: 3 Negative Thoughts That Bring Your Yoga Down
76 Breath Consciousness For Calm Living: De-Stress Yoga Off The Mat
OM Spirit 78 The Yoga Mindset:
Reframe Your Inner Dialogue
82 Cultivating Gratitude:
The Route To A Charmed Life
OM Yoga Mat Special 84 The Truth About Mats And Downward Dogs: Yoga Mat Guide
86 Wild At Heart:
The Story Behind Mat Makers Mumu
88 Meet Your Mat:
Choosing The Right Mat For You
90 Eco Warriors:
Yoga Mats And The Environment
91 Surfer Chic:
Yoga Mats From Recycled Wetsuits
OM Living 92 Eat Drink Yoga: Healthy Eating Goodies Cover Story
94 Higher Prana Power: Reboot Your Energy 104 Nutrition Zone: Nourishing Your Chakras
OM Family - Yoga 4 Teens Special 98 Beat Exam Stress With Yoga: Tips For Dealing With Exam Nerves
100 Test Yourself: Simple Yoga Moves For Teens
102 Conscious Parenting:
From Innocence To Adolescence
103 Let’s Hear It For The Kids:
Championing Yoga For Everyone
104 Soul Food For The Young:
Raising The Spiritual Vibration Of The Young
OM Actions Cover Story
106 Yoga & Freediving: Finding Grace And Harmony In The Deep Blue Sea
OM Teacher Zone
110 Life & Loves Of A Yoga Teacher 112 Protecting Your Energy: Keeping Your Karma Intact
114 Teacher’s Tales:
OM Travel 118 OM Travel News: Awe Inspiring Retreats & Ideas For Yoga Explorers
120 Gimme Shelter: The Green Retreats 122 A Grand Adventure:
Yoga In The Grand Canyon
My secret place Location Tessin, Switzerland Yogis Pip Elysium, Eugene Butcher Photo Alex Schimpf The photo shows UK-based acro yoga experts, Pip Elysium and Eugene Butcher, in action together on a tranquil lake in southern Switzerland. “We discovered this private lake through Alex Schimpf, a Swiss photographer who loves creating adventures with photography,” said Elysium. And the shot certainly involved a bit of adventure. “To create this enchanting photograph we had to paddle in a canoe to reach this wooden floating pontoon on a beautiful sunny day. It’s a special memory and hidden in a secret place.” Catch Pip Elysium and Eugene Butcher at the OM Yoga Show in Manchester this month (May 20, 21 & 22) where the pair will be presenting acro yoga classes and demos throughout the weekend. For details visit: omyogashow.com
Love OM magazine and want to tell the world? Here’s your chance Wake up call As a subscriber, I am so grateful to your magazine every month for so many things: inspiration, insight, open, alternative and fresh perspectives and a continual reminder to be humble. I first stepped on a yoga mat 20 years ago and have since, on my wonderful and often rocky journey, become a yoga teacher in Vinyasa and Yin styles and a massage and yoga therapist. I lived on a beautiful Island in the Andaman Sea for many years teaching yoga, massaging clients in the shade of palm trees; I held yoga therapy workshops and retreats on a beautiful wooden shala perched on the side of the cliff face. Life was simple, idyllic and I found practising yoga every day in such surroundings very easy and nurturing. This all came to an end when I became pregnant, returned to the UK and spent the first year and a half coping with the demands of being a new mum as well as my partner’s crippling depression. Life became heavy, emotionally exhausting and difficult. Finding time, energy and space to get on my mat was a daily, uphill struggle. But I kept trying, even if a few minutes in savasana was all I could do. I often felt depleted, drained and utterly lost on my life path. Then I found your magazine. It inspired me to get moving again, shift my energy, start practising and teaching again, wake up to how lucky I have been to have followed such an abundant and rich path on my journey. It reminds me to be grateful, to remember that there is no end destination, that it is the journey that is the interesting and rewarding bit. It reminds me that our path, as our life, is full of ups and downs, obstacles and also moments of pure joy. It reminds me to appreciate everything that comes my way, to learn from the countless lessons and continuous challenges of every second of every day. Mostly, it reminds me that every day is a new beginning, a chance to start (or re-start) again, to go forward with lessons learned, experience gained but with an open and fresh mind to the possibilities not yet discovered. As with my yoga practise, it reminds me that all you really need to do on your mat is let go and breathe. So, thank you, thank you, thank you! Natalie A, by email
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Yoga has no size
So happy to see you featuring ‘real’ women in your last issue (Yoga Has No Size, Issue 60, April 2016). I find it more inspiring reading how ordinary people approach their yoga rather than just those that are really bendy and flexible. Yoga is for all shapes and sizes, not just the super skinny! Katie S, by email
#YOGA HAS NO SIZE
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OM spoke to five amazing women who yoga in their lives in spite of their early have discovered the benefits of trepidation and any over what a ‘yoga past concerns body’ should look like AFFIONG UFFORT My practice has helped me through some tough times
“Before, I was put off trying yoga because I felt I was overweight with very limited flexibility. Since starting, however, I have discovered inner peace, a strong focus and clear thinking, whilst niggling aches my asthma have and disappeared. My practice has helped me through some tough times. Even when I don’t get the chance to practice at a studio, I still practice at home. I’m enjoying life more.”
LAUREN FRENCH Your mind is the only barrier to achieving anything
“I was initially hesitant about trying yoga because of the terms associated with it. ‘Flexibility’, ‘supple’ and ‘lean’ weren’t words I associated with being fat, so I didn’t even want to dip my toes in the water because I was sure I wouldn’t be any good at it. Since starting yoga, however, I’ve realised that flexibility and suppleness are also part of the mind as well as the body. I’ve found my mind being stretched as well as my muscles and I find the whole experience wholesome and invigorating. Your mind is the only barrier to achieving anything - it’s never your body.”
CLARE SPENCER I feel so much better in myself physically and mentally
“Since beginning a regular yoga practice my weight has fluctuated. However the biggest benefit has been inner strength to deal with challenging situations, along with taking care of my health, dealing with my authenticity and giving me a community to loosely belong to. When I was younger I didn’t like myself. I thought other people would reject me and I generally felt inferior to other people, but I bit the bullet and learnt to like myself more. When I practice regularly now I feel so much better in myself physically mentally so it really and is worth making the time and effort to go along. Although it can be expensive the cost is no barrier since I managed to attend classes regularly while unemployed as there are plenty studios who run of ‘work for yoga’ schemes.”
BodyYoga is the culmination of many years gathering expertise and knowledge at the BodyHoliday in order to create a Yoga programme to suit a wide range of needs. BodyYoga is about the pursuit of optimal wellness. Our aim is to find the right Yoga style for you and combine with sensible nutrition, therapies, relaxation and meditation. To learn more call 0203 096 1676 or visit www.thebodyholiday.com/activities/yoga
YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE
After a shake up in her personal life, yoga has brought Lisa Innes to a place of greater peace, contentment and happiness
NAME: Lisa Innes AGE: 35 OCCUPATION: Marketing manager & trainee yoga teacher YOGA YEARS: 10+
Why did you start yoga
I first started yoga back when I was around 22 or 23. I’d graduated from university and was back living at home with my parents while commuting 50-plus miles to work and back each day. Understandably, I was looking to take up something physical in the evenings to counter all the sitting around...and I loved it! I practiced twice a week back then, at the local sports centre. Sadly I can’t remember the teacher’s name any longer, because I’d like to thank her for kickstarting what has become a hugely important relationship in my life - the one between me and my mat.
How has yoga changed your life
First, I changed my life. And then yoga changed it further. Two plus years ago I was (so I thought) happily married and perfectly content with life. But then things changed - my relationship turned out to be irretrievably broken, I got divorced and sold my home, was cut off by my brother and became incredibly anxious and then depressed. Yoga was the lifeline that brought me back to being. It helped me find myself, understand myself, heal myself and ground myself. Today I’m a happy, peaceful and content person who, in finding yoga, has found a way to live a better life.
Favourite yoga haunts
Honestly? My living room! I have just enough space to comfortably roll out my mat, a couple of candles and a collection of incense. The moments at the beginning and/or end of the day where I can carve out some space in the world to practice, and just be, are my idea of heaven.
Best yoga moment
Beginning yoga teacher training this February. I’m so incredibly grateful that I’ll have the opportunity to pass on what I know about yoga to others and I’m super excited about what I’m sure will be a lifelong journey of learning for me too.
Yoga for me is absolutely more than just a physical practice and although that’s often what brings people to class in the first instance I love seeing them discover more about the practice, and take these learnings into their everyday lives.
om beginnings Justin Trudeau and his family waving towards their party supporters in Brampton, Canada
Yoga takes over the world
More world leaders are taking yoga seriously
orld leaders are going crazy for yoga. Yes, we all know that India’s prime minister Narendra Modi is a big advocate – he’s the brains behind the UN International Yoga Day (IYND) which takes place next month – but there are plenty of other political leaders taking to the mat too. The secretary general of the UN himself, Ban Ki-moon, has also been caught on camera
doing yoga. He celebrated the first IYD day last year with a yoga lesson from his special adviser on Myanmar. And Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has gained almost celebrity status in his home country and beyond after he was photographed doing peacock pose on a conference table wearing a suit, surrounded by a few colleagues. ‘Trudeaumania’ ignited after a picture of the 44-year-old balancing on his wrists went viral on the internet.
The world’s media even suggested that the Canadian PM has joined the likes of Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the field of ‘heads of state doing impressive athletic things’. Putin, famously, likes to shirtlessly ride horses. Here in Britain, we’re not sure that David Cameron is a yogi yet, although he has been photographed at yoga retreats with his wife, Samantha, who is a keen practitioner. David, there’s no better way to lead than to lead by example.
AFFIRMATION? An affirmation for inner strength and self empowerment.
BWY accredited school, Yoga Alliance UK registered school Yoga Alliance US registered school
Yoga Teacher Training in 2016 BWY accredited, Yoga Alliance UK and Yoga Alliance US registered teacher training course Commences in the UK on 14 October 2016 • limited to 20 students
Ongoing Training and Study Immersions Options for CPD and Yoga Alliance US500 upgrade 20-hour immersion 22–24 April, Bore Place, UK 50-hour immersion, 13–20 June, Huzur Vadisi, Turkey 20-hour immersion, 25–27 November, Bore Place, UK
“I am strong. I can handle what life hands to me knowing that I’m always being divinely guided on my journey”
www.theyogaacademy.org firstname.lastname@example.org theyogaacademy YogaAcademyUK yogaacademyuk
BRITISH WHEEL OF YOGA
simon low Do not let your struggles disempower you. Without our challenges we would never know our strengths. Know that you are not defined by your past. In fact, you are not defined by anything that has happened to you or that is happening to you right now, so never allow yourself to be. You define you. What you believe to be true of yourself you will see proof of in the world. What you give out will radiate back to you. If you see yourself as weak then you will encounter situations and people who leave you feeling weak and disempowered. Our subconscious loves to say: ‘I told you so’. Notice your thoughts, notice when you’re not feeling strong and grounded or when you’re not standing in your power then ask yourself why that is. You will surely find the answer. Anytime you’re feeling less than powerful and robust just place one hand over your heart and one hand just under your rib cage and above your navel and silently repeat the affirmation. “I am strong. I can handle this.” Allow yourself to breathe into that affirmation. You will feel your energy change. Let your challenges make you. Do not let them break you. Reach out and ask for help when you need it, although do not crumble into a heap, as you are a strong, powerful person. Your inner strength is plentiful and you will get through what life hands to you.
By Deb Mac (contentedlittlesoles.com)
Retreats, weekends and workshops WORKSHOPS
20—22 May Radiant Light, Antwerp, Belgium
9—16 May, 11—18 September Santillán, Spain
1—3 July Atha Yoga, Zurich, Switzerland
20—27 June, 15—22 August* 22—29 August* Huzur Vadisi, Turkey
YOGA WEEKENDS 29 April—1 May, 21—23 October 2—4 December Bore Place, Kent
*Can be taken as a 1 or 2 week holiday
www.simonlow.com email@example.com simonlowuk yogawithsimonlow yogasimonlow yogasimonlow
The home retreat Can’t get away this summer? Take a yoga retreat in the comfort of your living room Start the summer the right way with a quick (and cheap!) yoga retreat…at home. Vidados (vidados.com), the activity holidays marketplace with over 400 yoga retreats, has teamed up Yogaia (yogaia.com), the live and interactive online yoga studio, to create The Home Retreat. Okay, so you won’t be doing yoga on a beach in Spain (boo hoo!), but the ‘live’ factor means that it’s a little more authentic and real than simply watching a yoga tutorial on YouTube. Simply turn on the camera on your phone, laptop or iPad to connect with your yoga instructor who will guide you through your yoga session. The live class means your teacher can offer you personal advice, tips and tricks to help you take your
workout to the next level. Vidados is an activity holidays marketplace that connects travellers looking to do something different with local, independent hosts from around the world. It has over 400 yoga retreats with local hosts all over the world from Belize to India and almost everywhere in between. The live, interactive Yogaia experience brings the studio or teacher straight to you in real-time, allowing you to exercise in the convenience of your home with professional and personal instruction via webcam. It has more than 100 new online yoga classes every week available at your fingertips 24/7. It’s a nice way to step up your practice until you can afford that Spain trip.
Yoga & Aromatherapy Rose Oil (Rosa Damascene)
The month of May brings us formally into spring and, with it, for those of us in the UK, two bank holidays and two long weekends. A time to look forward to the change in seasons and observe nature blooming into flower. To help us move forwards into this season, the essential oil to use is Rose Oil (Rosa damascene). Rosa Damascene is the most expensive essential oil as it takes approximately 60,000 roses to produce just 1oz of pure Rose Oil. So always use Rose Oil with care and sparingly: you only need one drop to a diffuser to fill a room or studio with the balancing and blissful aroma for all to enjoy. The whole body and all seven chakras can benefit from Rose Oil. It is a natural healing oil; it helps unblock chi, removes stagnations, brings in positive energy and seals the aura when its healing work is done. It brings love and compassion to the heart chakra and helps heal emotional wounds. Rose Oil is also useful when working with the crown chakra as the oil brings a sense of spiritual connection and completeness. Place one drop of Rose Oil into your palms, then place your hands over each of the chakras and let the oil heal and unblock each energy centre. Alternatively, put one drop into some coconut oil and massage the whole body with this luxurious blend to completely heal and balance the body for spring. Rose Oil is an Emenagogue, so avoid during pregnancy. Can be a very mild irritant.
By Julia White (beautifulmindbeautifulbody.co.uk)
Amazing spaces Stylish and inspiring studio design ideas and interiors Yoga West, 33-34 Westpoint, Warple Way, London yogaat.com/yogawest YogaAt, a private yoga and pilates provider in London, recently opened its first studio, Yoga West. It’s a beautiful, welcoming and relaxed venue offering yoga and pilates classes for all levels, ages and abilities – and all classes are drop in too, so you can just pop in anytime. Offering a clean, light, airy space, it’s the perfect spot to find your centre amidst the hustle and bustle of the capital. Regular classes across all styles (including Vinyasa Flow, Jivamukti, pregnancy, parent and baby groups) plus themed workshops and courses from mindfulness to Ashtanga. Make a date next time you’re in West London. YogaWest…it’s the best.
Beautiful things for beautiful people
Faith in Nature Chocolate Shampoo - £5.50 (400ml) Get your chocolate fix in the bath with Faith in Nature’s chocolate range of shampoo, conditioner and soap. A luxurious blend of organic cocoa bean and vanilla, infused with sage to nourish your senses – and made in the UK too. Sadly, you can’t eat them. faithinnature.co.uk
The Secret Messages Hidden In Words
Visually beautiful book by yoga teacher Kim Ismet (illustrations and artwork by Marianne Hunter), expanding on the meaning of simple words like joy and love. Structured along each of the chakras. An ideal companion and aid for meditation, healing and yoga. kismet.com
Lifefactory Water Bottles - from £14.99
On-the-go water bottles just got a whole lot better for us thanks to this American brand that manufactures bottles in glass (with a distinctive silicone wrap) instead of plastic. Better for the environment and kinder to our bodies too. The range includes water bottles, coffee mugs and even baby bottles. formahouse.co.uk
Inspired Lanterns - £29.95/£39.95
Fabric lanterns, hand-made from 100% cotton printed with a range of designs - perfect for creating an oasis of calm in a yoga space or a peaceful atmosphere in a bedroom. inspired-lanterns.co.uk
200Hr Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training Intensives & Advanced YTT Modules in Spain nce Profes lia sio Al
at Suryalila Retreat Centre in the Heart of Andalusia
Pr d Tr ainin g
200Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings 28 May–18 June, 27 August–17 September 15 October–5 November
75Hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Modules: Sea Soul & Snow Tops - £45 (sweats)
9 April–16 April 17 September–24 September
Check out the selection of YOGA and OM OK sweats and muscle vest tops from Sea Soul & Snow. Great for your time on the mat, down the gym, or couch surfing. seasoulandsnow.com
www.FrogLotusYogaInternational.com www.Suryalila.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Dream on Dreamer” leggings, €85 and bra top, €45 moonchildyogawear.com
Introducing Moonchild Yoga Wear, a Danish fashion brand inspired by the colours and lights of Scandinavian nature. Designed in Denmark and made in the EU with certified eco-friendly Italian fabrics, it will bring a whole new sparkle to your practice
Photographer: Nicklas Ingemann (nicklasingemann.com) Model: Ulrikke Lundsgaard, Unique Models
“Monday Child” leggings, €85 and bra top, €45 moonchildyogawear.com
“New Elements” High Waist Shorts, €48 and bra top, €45 moonchildyogawear.com
“Naomi Levitate” leggings, €85 and bra top, €45 moonchildyogawear.com
July 14th–17th 2016
Four days oF experiential workshops
live alternative and rock music yoga workshops all day long +meditation martial arts seminar info
Cascina Bellaria Località Boschi 47 - Sezzadio AL - ITALY (90 minutes outside Milan)
YOGA TEACHER TRAININGS
yoga beyond your idea of yoga
The sooner The beTTer «scholarships for the first 6 registrations YOGA HOLIDAYS AVAILABLE ON THE SAME DATES.
— FOLLOW US
INFO www.hariomyogaschool.com email@example.com
— COSTA RICA SAMASATI NATuRE RETREAT CENTER CARIBBEAN COAST
— ITALY CASCINA BELLARIA SEZZADIO AL (90 minutes outside Milan)
200hr YTT 2016 Sep 10th - 30th Oct 16th - Nov 4th
200hr YTT 2016 Jun 10th - 30th Jul 20th - Aug 9th Aug 10th - 30th Dec 17th 2016 - Jan 6th 2017 300hr YTT 2016 Jun 10th - Jul 9th Aug 10th - Sep 8th
Planet yoga Stories from around the weird and wonderful world of yoga
Justice is done
Calgary cops are turning to yoga to help keep a lid on job stress. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is recruiting a yoga instructor as part of a new corporate employee wellness initiative on a contract that runs for one year, with the option of four additional years. Sean Chu, a former CPS officer, said yoga and other wellness resources are hugely beneficial to members of the force. “Wellness and health is actually saving the police money in the long term and also increasing productivity,” he told the Calgary Herald. In addition to yoga, zumba and boot camp classes are also to be offered to stressed out officers.
Brace yourself for a new yoga style you probably won’t want to take your mother to: Rage Yoga. Lindsay Istace uses screaming, swearing and heavy metal music during her classes, with not a single ‘namaste’ to be heard. There are also offensive gestures like the middle finger to release stress and add a sense of humour to the ancient discipline. And, instead of a sun-lit studio, her classes are held in a dimly-lit basement pub in downtown Calgary. “I wanted to create a practice that I felt comfortable in, and I knew I wasn’t alone,” says Istace. “I’m a very loud, colourful personality.”
Do yoga or go crazy
“Do yoga or go crazy,” that’s how pop star Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) introduced a recent Instagram post showing her doing a few moves on the mat. The American singer and TV star - the daughter of country singer Billie Ray Cyrus - is a big Ashtanga yoga fan. But, aside from getting a strong, flexible and toned body through her practice, Cyrus says it’s more about the mental benefits she gets from her workout. “Gotta do yoga not for my body but for my mind!” she added. It was a hit with fans too with thousands of comments and hundreds of thousands of likes.
om beginnings Mad for it
Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has discovered yoga and plans to take a trip to India soon in search of spiritual enlightenment. The 43-year-old singer, known for his confrontational style and hostility to the British press, is now reportedly using yoga to help manage stress in the wake of a marital split and expensive divorce from his ex-wife Nicole Appleton. “Liam got into yoga while on holiday in Belize in January,” a source told the Daily Mirror. “He has met a lot of people who are into yoga and now he wants to give it a go himself. He is really determined to stick at it.”
Anatomy & Myofascial Movement Course for Yoga Teachers A 9 WEEKEND COURSE Structural, Functional and Experiential Anatomy for Movement for Yoga Teachers
Gary Carter shows how a thorough knowledge of anatomy can help teachers to make intelligent choices about the way they teach their pupils. His workshops involve the use of props, illustrations, and hands-on work in class to help demonstrate the principles that underlie the practice. These courses of experiential anatomy will run for nine weekends (approx. 1 per month), exploring the anatomy of movement in relation to asana practice and Pilates Practice, movement analysis and 3-D work. It will encourage teachers to “see” their students more clearly, thus helping with rehabilitative issues. The course aims to help teachers take a flexible, intelligent approach to Yoga and Pilates, Gyrotonics and with individual students. Including newer understandings of the Fascial and Elastic Body in Movement. New findings of Gravity Relationships to movement. New courses now booking: Bath • starting April 2016 – March 2017 2 places left! London • Yoga Myofascial Movement Anatomy starting October 2016 – July 2017 London Pilates Myofascial Movement Anatomy • October 2016 – August 2017 EARLY BIRD DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE
Yoga v walking
It may well be the birthplace of yoga, but walking is the most popular form of exercise among India’s working population, a new study shows. Walking has emerged as the most preferred exercise - closely followed by yoga - according to the Walk For Health Survey 2016, which conducted research in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Jaipur. Next came running and cycling, with a large number of employees using mobile health apps to calculate calories burnt and distance covered. Still, with the next International Yoga Day just around the corner (June 21, 2016), we reckon it’s only a matter of time before yoga takes the lead.
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Divine Spine Use this sequence based on the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series to help access more space in your spine
YOGA @ HOME
We’re starting to look forward to the change of seasons with the warmth of the summer months approaching. Now is a good time to shake off remnants of the cold winter; let go of hunched shoulders and heavy coats and start to find a lighter step and length in your spine. Create length and a feeling of lightness to carry you confidently into the summer.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
We like to start our practice with a little sit. This enables time to ‘arrive’ onto your mat and let go of the day so far. Start to tune into the breath. Sitting in Padmasana or any seated crossed leg position, use a block if you need to. Settle the body and close the eyes. Take a deep exhale and feel this as a rooting energy to the earth. Be aware of your mid line, your spine, and as you inhale feel as if the earth pushes you away enabling you to find more length and space, being drawn up through the crown of the head to the sky. Stay with this; inhaling length and space, exhaling into the earth. Allow the outer body to soften keeping awareness on your mid line. You have now arrived into your yoga space. Sun Saluation A (Surya Namaskara A) We use Surya Namaskara A to start to flow in time with the breath. Repeat this sun salutation three or five times. Holding the down dog for 5 breaths and finding Sama Vritti, an equal breath.
Standing Forward Bend (Padangusthasana)
Coming to Samasthiti, inhale and jump the feet to hip width and hold the big toes with your first two fingers and lift your heart. Exhale, fold down. The palms of the hands face each other and if your arms bend point the elbows behind you. This allows access to space at the back of the energetic heart. Imagine you are breathing into this space between the shoulder blades. Tipping a little weight forward feel the crown of the head trying to reach the floor, drawing shoulders away from ears and lengthen the neck into the base of the skull. If you have tight hamstrings then soften the knees. Take 3 – 10 breaths. Inhale lift your heart and head, exhale let go of the toes and jump back to Samasthiti. We love that the ‘Yoga Mala’ states this will “dissolve the fat from the lower abdomen”!
om body 3
Triangle Pose (Uttitha Trikonasana)
Inhale step to the right almost the length of a leg, right toes out back toes in. Heels are in line and arms out wide. Exhale soften the front knee looking towards the big toe, hold with first two fingers. Maintaining your navel drawing into the spine will allow more space in the lumbar region and prevent over arching here. As you inhale start to straighten the leg as much as comfortable, lastly turning your gaze to the top hand. Feel that you are aligned to the long edge of the mat. Keep navel in and relax underneath shoulder. Push energy into back edge of back foot and create space from hips to armpits. Take 3 – 10 breaths. Exhale look down to the toe softening the knee and letting go. Inhale come up and switch feet to prepare for left side.
Wide Leg Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana A)
Inhale stepping out to the right about a legs length, hands on hips. Feet square to short edges. Exhale soften knees so you can fold at hips and place hands on floor shoulder width apart. Inhale lift your head and look up, exhale fold down into the pose. Take 3 – 10 breaths. Keep lifting the inner arches of the feet to prevent the knees rolling in. Dangle out of the hips, freeing the spine. Focus the breath to the back of the heart again and keep shoulders away from the ears. Inhale lift heart, exhale head in, hands on hips soft knees. Inhale come back up and exhale to Samasthiti.
Head Of The Knee Pose A (Janu Sirsasana A) Side Forward Bend (Parsvottanasana)
Taking hands to reverse prayer or crossing arms and holding elbows. Step to the right and square hips to short edge of the mat. Exhale soften front knee to fold over front leg, keeping about 70% of your weight on the front foot straighten leg as much as is comfortable. Push the palms or lift the elbows, feel the space this creates. Allow the heart to travel forward and maintain length through the neck. A fantastic lengthening and shoulder opening pose. Take 3 – 10 breaths. Exhale soften knee to come out, inhale back up and turning round to square hips to front of mat. If you are a bit wobbly or struggle to find square hips then widen your stance. Repeat on left side. Then inhale open up to long edge of mat arms wide, exhale to Samasthiti.
Either Vinyasa down to sitting through the Surya Namaskara sequence, dropping to your knees in down dog, or come to sitting. In Dandasana, staff pose, inhale place right sole of foot against left thigh, maintaining square hips so you don’t twist. Reach for left foot if possible. Exhale draw navel in and fold forward keeping your shoulders square. Make sure you haven’t rounded your upper spine, better to be more upright with a sense of armpits drawing back to hips than rounding your head to leg. You’ll need to feel that you are sticking your chest out slightly here to get into your upper back. Take 3 – 10 breaths. Inhale lift head, exhale let go of foot. Repeat on other side and take a Vinyasa if you like before the next pose.
om body 7
Sage Marichy, Son Of Brahma C (Marichyasana C )
You may need to sit both buttocks on a block for this pose. From Dandasana inhale bend right leg so outside edge of foot is in line with edge of hip. Place right hand on right thigh and push the leg forward and across your body. With bent left arm take left shoulder to outside edge of right knee. Staying here or taking the bind behind you exhale and look right. Use your breath to lengthen on the inhale, turn on the exhale. Itâ€™s the length that will enable you to turn. Keep finding space on your right side. Take 3 â€“ 10 breaths, exhale turn back to centre undo and prepare for other side. A vinyasa to then clear that pose.
Legs Up The Wall
From sitting with a hip and shoulder against the wall , spin around so your legs can go straight up the wall. If hamstrings are tight you will be a little distance from the wall. Arms to the side of the body. Drawing shoulder blades down your back and checking head is in line. Palms facing up begin to tune into your breath. Feel the inhale into the front heart and across collarbones the exhale into back of the heart and down into the earth. Allow the body to settle here for at least 10 breaths. When you are ready, bend knees into chest for a few breaths, gently roll to right side and come back to sitting.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Take either Padmasana or a chosen cross leg position, perhaps sitting on a block. Take a moment to again find your stillness here to re-visit the breath. You can repeat the breathing practice we did at the beginning and notice now the quality of your breath. Notice how the spine feels, the sensation of length. How your heart is lifted and your shoulders are relaxed. Carry this feeling with you throughout your day.
The Retreat Sisters are Katharine Lawrence (left) and Jodie Jeacock (right) who offer their own retreats, either mini day retreats or weekends. They also proudly host world class Ashtanga teachers in luxurious residential settings. Visit: theretreatsisters.wordpress.com Photos: Tom Sanderson
The original fasting diet and a perfect complement to your yoga. Mixing Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup with lemon juice, water and a pinch of cayenne pepper provides a drink rich in nutrients and minerals to support your fast.
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Granville Cousins is one of the most popular teachers on Manchester’s vibrant yoga scene. When he’s not on the mat or putting together his new teacher training course, he says he loves nothing more than just chillin’ How did you first get into yoga I remember watching a television programme in 1970. It came on around 3pm, I think, on Wednesday afternoon, called Yoga For Health, hosted by Richard Hittleman. He was a Chinese American and he spoke about yoga philosophy, practice and diet. Flanked on one side by a very slim blonde called Cheryl and on the other by Lyn Marshal who became a very popular yoga teacher in her own right. What inspired you in those early days I’ve always been interested in religion and sport and wanted a way to combine my spiritual quest with a physical decline. Everything I knew at the time meant that in sport one’s abilities decline over the years, eventually leaving you high and dry. With regards to spiritual practice I wanted some method that enabled me to find out the truth of things for myself without a dogmatic belief system. Yoga offered this and I guess that’s what grabbed me. I’m not naturally flexible - when I started I couldn’t even touch my toes keeping my legs straight but that didn’t put me off. I’d found a path that appealed to me so I just got on with it. After a time working in Cornwall in holiday camps and having a brilliant time, I decided to get serious with the yoga using B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga as my manual. I would practice 2 to 3 hours in the back garden of my parents house, during those sunny summers we used to have in England. I kept this up for six months until I trained myself in this routine which I have kept up to the present time. I also got involved with Tai Chi and Kung Fu in a big way. David Carradine and Bruce Lee were very popular at the time. In fact, although I had this intense yoga practice I never saw myself as a yoga teacher, more of a martial artist, so the way it has all worked out is pretty surprising to me.
What does yoga give you personally My usual day starts with a couple of hours of meditation. This is the main practice for me. This gives me a life in the way it shapes my outlook, attitude and understanding of myself and others. That’s the beauty of yoga and meditation. I enjoy the benefits of being physically healthy but the quantum shift for me is through the meditation. During my early days of practice I had a number of insights that blew away my perspective on spirituality. After reading about such things that the mystics experience I could identify with their revelations and that is very powerful. I became a Buddhist and am currently studying in the Kadampa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. I’m interested in life after death and what happens during our transmigration to our next life. The Tibetans are the masters of this stuff so that’s why I’m in this tradition. Modern science is a big player as well especially now that quantum physics has come to the foreground. There are a lot of parallels between Buddhism and quantum science and the mystics worked it all out ages ago. It’s great to see the coming together of modern ideas and ancient truths. This is a very exciting time to be on the planet. Any favourite teachers, studios or yoga spots There have been so many interesting teachers and venues but the one I have a special regard for is my first proper yoga teacher Jean Maslen who I trained with in Manchester for 10 years. She set me on the path of how to practice
“There are a lot of parallels between Buddhism and quantum science and the mystics worked it all out ages ago.” 35
om body “My favourite spot was Bacolet Beach. I would finish teaching my group in the morning and then walk down there. It took about 45 mins in the hot sun. Spread my towel and do yoga with the waves lapping in the background.”
and eventually took a group of us out to the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, India. There I was fortunate to attend a three-week teacher intensive with Mr Iyengar himself. When you are in the presence of such a person, who had devoted over 50 years of his life to yoga, that karma carries some weight. I stayed on in India for three months travelling through the north, south and then Nepal. That was a game changer. Within six months of my return back to the UK, I left my full-time job as a joiner and signed up for an enterprise training course to start as a full-time yoga teacher. There’s also my time spent in Crete with Derek Ireland and Radha Warrell, with whom I studied Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. And the venue in Agios Pavlos was awesome. I remember being there for Derek and Radha’s Demonstration of the Primary Series to the music of Return to Innocence. That was all the fire you needed. I couldn’t wait to get on my mat at 07:00 and sweat and breathe my way through my practice. What a yogi in his own way. Derek remains very dear to my heart. And then there’s Moonlight Mountain Retreat in Tobago. And Ginny Plumpton and Kelly. I took yoga groups out to their place on three occasions and only the last trip earned us any money. But my favourite spot was Bacolet Beach. I would finish teaching my group in the morning and then walk down there. It took about 45 mins in the hot sun. Spread my towel and do yoga with the waves lapping in the background. And for my lunch fresh jelly coconut straight off the tree. And, of course, I’d like to mention David Swenson, who stayed up at my place on the wild Pennine moors of Whitworth, near Rochdale. It doesn’t get any better than that. How would you describe your own personal teaching style Being initially trained as an Iyengar teacher my foundation is based on alignment and clear instruction. When I taught for Derek & Radha in Crete that’s what they loved about my style. Especially when going through a flow sequence where things can get sloppy. I’m like that by nature anyway, I love paying attention to detail and it just comes through my yoga as well. I teach mainly yogAsana now which is a development of the yoga styles I have practiced over the years. yogAsana combines flow, with precision and letting the body find its way into postures. There is a big influence of Yin in there which is a return to the softer styles of yoga before Mr Iyengar and Ashtanga Vinyasa became popularised. I also teach yogAsana in hot yoga studios which is a perfect match. What are your plans going forward At the moment I’m still carrying on teaching my regular classes, yoga holidays and workshops. I am also putting together a teacher training programme enabling me to pass on my experience for the newer generations of yoga practitioners. I’d like to see other yoga teachers and students benefit from the practice of yogAsana. Tell us about the yoga scene in Manchester We are very fortunate here to have the opportunity to study with different teachers of diverse styles and
om body experience. Not everyone is so fortunate. We are visited frequently by teachers from the surrounding area and abroad. And, of course, hosting an event such as the OM Yoga Show gives local and visiting yogis a chance to share their knowledge and experience. So let’s mingle and continue the work of waking up the planet to the consciousness of spirit. You never know, it might change the world. What do you do when you’re not doing yoga I’m a big fan of science and the workings of the cosmos so I like to keep updated with the latest findings and discoveries in that field. I also like spending time at the health club and in the jacuzzi. Also developing my swimming with the front crawl. In the summer my property takes quite a bit of my time keeping the grass down and general maintenance. And just chillin’ when I get the chance. Any personal motto or mantra that you have to keep you going during tough times My dad had a good Jamaican proverb that he taught me: The race is not for the swift or the strong, but for he that can endure it to its end. I think that’s a pretty good motto for life. Any good yoga tips for the rest of us In my life I feel very fortunate to have had parents who supported me on my journey of becoming a yoga practitioner and teacher. There are lots of things that need to come together to enable us to materialise our
dreams. Never take anything for granted like it’s going to last forever. We never know. But having your dream in your sights, go for it and try and live the life you choose to live rather than one that is doled out to us. Make your own future happen. Anything else I think the most important thing is to remember the purpose of yoga: It is to realise our true nature, to find out for ourselves who we really are. No one can authentically convey that knowledge to us, it is down to us to discover for ourselves first hand.
For more information visit: yogawithgranville.com GRANVILLE COUSINS IS PRESENTING AT THE OM YOGA SHOW MANCHESTER 2016 Friday 20th May Vitacoco Open Class – 15.15 – 15.45 How to go upside down with confidence - FREE Saturday 21st May Hero Open Class – 11.30 – 12.00 Wrist Balancing - FREE Saturday 21st May Workshop Room 2 – 15.45 – 17.15 YogAsana - £5 Visit omyogashow.com/manchester for more details
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MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
Get out the way, grumpy pants… shake off your stress with a good laughter yoga workout. By Martin D. Clark
or those outside the world of yoga and all its strange ways, then some of the new trends that come along from time to time can certainly raise an eyebrow… I’m thinking of things like naked yoga for starters (it doesn’t take a genius to guess what happens during a class). Another, perhaps, is laughter yoga, although in this case there is something of a history behind it. Started by a medical doctor named Madan Kataria in India in 1995, there are now an estimated 8,000 laughter clubs all over the world in 100 different countries. Why? Because people love to laugh and because it makes us all feel better. The fact that you don’t have to get your kit off to do it is also a big plus. But what’s it all got to do with yoga? According to laughter yoga guru, Harish Chavda, the idea combines laughter therapy with yogic breathing, via some good old fashioned belly laughs.
Chavda, who’s also a motivational speaker and a health and wellbeing coach, says the benefits are pretty much endless. “It’s not only our facial muscles or our breathing that are affected when we laugh, all our organs get stimulated and receive a nice massage inside. Then there’s the mental and emotional side. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins which results in a better sense of wellbeing.” The result: stress subsides and the personal happy-o-meter goes through the roof. In fact, a good laugh can completely change the dynamics of almost any situation. Sure enough, it’s hard to feel stressed about next week’s meeting with the boss or what to wear for a big night out when you’re rolling about on the floor guffawing with your pals (or by yourself!). Remember what it was like being a child? Youngsters just can’t help themselves chuckling through the day; it’s one of the most wonderful sights to behold.
It may sound funny (pun fully intended), but it’s certainly not crazy. “Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost touch with it all,” says Chavda. “With everyone living increasingly busy lives, life and work seem to have got a lot more serious these days. We’re plugged into our computers and screens, overloaded with information, and can spend days living and working almost in silos, hardly communicating face-to-face with anyone.” And that doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun and laughter. Of course, enlightened yogis have a natural inclination to break free from this cycle anyway – there’s nothing better than a regular yoga practice, meditation and a good walk in nature to free the mind - but let’s face it, nobody wants to turn down a good giggle. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. That’s a concept that was also explored by Norman Cousins in his 1979 bestselling
om body book ‘Anatomy of an Illness’, in which he combats a serious health condition with laughter and other feel good therapies. So here’s the important part. According to Chavda, there are two ways to laugh: with a joke (whether that’s in real life, on TV, or at someone else’s misfortune, you rotter!) or simply for no reason. Well, we can’t always be watching our favourite TV show, so the challenge in laughter yoga is to get people laughing for absolutely no reason whatsoever. If that sounds tricky or contrived that’s because it is…or at least, it is at first. The challenge is to think and act like a child again, to be open to the idea of simply laughing for no reason and then going with wherever that takes you. If you’re on your own it can be quite liberating (and strange) to just roar loudly with laughter. Be prepared for some strange looks if someone is observing you. If you’re in a group, once you get over the initial ‘well, this is weird’ factor then you’ll have a ball.
OM invited Chavda into the office one afternoon to show us what it’s all about. After explaining some of the theory behind it – basically that laughing is good for you – he got on with the fun stuff. To start with, that meant putting on our ‘uniform’ (a choice of wacky hats and wigs) and introducing us to his assistant, Tommy, a cuddly toy monkey. Then we were up and at it, clearing the chairs from the room, standing in a circle and feeling rather anxious. Until the expert got to work, that is. Chavda – who runs corporate laughter yoga sessions for the
“People love to laugh because it makes us all feel better.”
likes of Google and other big corporations – is no stranger to this apprehension. The fear factor is one of the things that stops us laughing in life in general, especially so in a work or office setting, so step one is to break the ice. A bit of simple clapping, and getting the arms and feet moving is a nice warm up, along with some breath work, before the big belly laughs begin. And sure enough, they began. Chavda stressed the importance of eye contact during the group exercises since laughter is contagious. That’s certainly the case. Excruciating as this might sound at first in a formal work setting, it’s actually the key to unleashing the laughter. Faking a belly laugh is one thing, but once you catch everyone else doing the same it triggers the real deal. By the end of the session, the awkwardness had melted away and we were
laughing our metaphorical socks off. It was a great stress-buster. Whatever makes you giggle, whether that’s forcing out a fake laugh after you’ve missed the train or watching some very unpolitically correct Benny Hill re-runs, then you’re onto a winner. Laughter is a fantastic way to make your day so much better. And, says Chavda, the best thing is that it is available “on tap”, whenever you need it. “You can call up laughter at any time – and it’s free.” Here at OM, I think we all enjoyed the experience and deemed it a success, at least once the awkwardness factor had been dealt with. Hey, next time we might even try naked yoga (gulp!!). Find out more about Harish Chavda and laughter yoga at: harishchavda.com
LOL... HERE’S WHAT THE OM TEAM HAD TO SAY: “I was slightly unconvinced beforehand, but laughter yoga was a lot of fun! It was certainly an unusual way to finish a day at work, and after some initial hesitation, we all threw ourselves into it. Harish is a great teacher, and I’m definitely going to try and put some of his tips into practice – laughing aloud while sitting in traffic is one I definitely have to try!” Jane Lambert, OM promotions & blogger community manager “I have done some crazy things in my time (I used to play in a rock band) but this was a real riot. Great fun.” Tom Sanderson, OM senior designer “I think we all had a lot of fun and picked up a few good life lessons as well. And yes, I have been practising laughing out loud for no reason at home and in the car!” Keith Coomber, OM publisher
Sofa, so good Don’t worry if you can’t drag yourself away from the sofa, there’s still a yoga workout you can do. By Meg Jackson I don’t want to ruin any surprises for you, but sometimes our journey along the yogic pathway isn’t ideal. We gaze guiltily at our rolled up mat, which is getting more action as the cat’s scratching post than as a tool for our spiritual enlightenment. The closest we get to touching our toes is picking up a dirty sock from the floor. And the only time we remember to breathe deeply is when we think there’s no wine in the house. I’m a big believer in the ‘Anything is Better than Nothing’ school of
REAL L IFE
The TV Twist
Move yourself towards the front of the sofa. Take your right foot and place it on the outside of your left knee. Let the right hand gently rest behind you and hug your knee with your left arm. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and turn to look over your right shoulder. Think of lifting and lengthening through your spine with each inhale and twisting a little deeper with the exhale. Repeat on the other side.
thought. So if I find an opportunity to move my body at the same time I’m doing other stuff, I take it. And that’s why I started playing around with these fun poses you can do whilst indulging in some serious TV or movie watching. Before you start, remember that your body won’t be warmed up so move carefully. Use your breath. Maybe turn the volume down (in the ad break, obviously!) so that you can have a little more focus on what you’re doing. Wearing a onesie is entirely optional.
Cow Face on the Couch
Tuck your right heel up towards your left bum cheek. Take your left heel to the outside your right bum cheek. See if you can allow the two knees to stack on top of each other. Sometimes you might need to wiggle a little bit so that you can get your heels equally aligned on both sides. Allow the knees to nestle together, and rest your hands on the top of your feet. Lift up through the spine and sit as tall as you can. Donâ€™t forget to do it on the other side.
Hips at Home
Sit with your back supported by the cushions on the sofa. Bring the soles of your feet together, heels as close to your pubic bone as you comfortably can. Be very aware of any strain in the knees. If you feel any tension there, support the stretch by placing a cushion under each knee. Keep thinking of sitting up tall with each inhale, and perhaps taking your torso forwards with each exhale. Breathe and smile. If you can only do one of these things, breathe!
Lie along the sofa on your belly, with your upper chest resting on the arm of the sofa. Use a big cushion wedged up against it to help support your torso. Without clenching your bum cheeks, and keeping a feeling of being long through your lower back, gently lift your gaze up to the ceiling. Reach your arms up and forwards, keeping the shoulder blades wide and with a feeling of them sliding down your back. If reaching the arms forwards is too much, you can gently prop yourself on your elbows by resting them on the arm of the sofa. Breathe and remain there for as long as is comfortable.
Leave the cushion next to the arm of the chair, and sit so that your heels are resting up on the arm of the chair and the sofa is supporting the backs of your legs. Ensure you’re not locking the knee joints – think of keeping a very tiny bend in both joints. Inhale to lift and lengthen the spine, and exhale reach for your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, let the hands rest on the legs instead. Allow each exhale to take your torso a little closer to the legs, without rounding the back. Are you breathing? Good!
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Drape yourself face down over the arm of the sofa, feeling it across the front of your hips. Reach for the floor. (If you can’t comfortably get your hands flat on the floor, use some blocks or make some secure stacks with books.) Place your hands shoulder width apart, ensuring you push down at the base of the thumb and first finger. Walk your hands away from the sofa so that you make a diagonal line from wrist, through elbow, all the way through your torso and up to your sitting bones. Activate the legs, pushing back through the heels. Let the head drop, and get long from the tip of your tail-bone up to the top of your head. Don’t forget to breathe.
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7 Upside (Not) Down
One to make you feel like you’re six again. Sit sideways on the sofa so the outside of your bum cheek is up against the back cushion. Turn and swing your legs up so that your feet are either hanging over the back of the sofa, or resting on a wall, with the back of both thighs resting on the cushion. As long as it’s comfortable for your neck, let your head hang off the front of the sofa. Either let your hands rest on your chest, or for an extra opening let your hands reach behind you towards the floor. Stay there for as long as you feel comfortable, and slide yourself back up on to the sofa once you’re done. Move slowly as you may feel a bit wobbly! 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 at Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire, one of the country’s most relaxing health spas, for the first ever Real Life Yoga retreat later this year. Find out more at: reallifeyoga.net
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YOGA THERAPY Earache
Practical yoga therapy The Problem The Solution Earache is a pain or pressure within the ear Yoga postures and breathing techniques techniques to start you that is causing the person pain. Earache can, of course, help, though it is important can be due to infection, sinus issues, cold to listen to your body and adjust yourself on the road to health: symptoms, damage to the ear or having accordingly. Should the pain or pressure physically, mentally, a small foreign object in the ear (such as worsen, please ease off the technique and/or children putting things in their ear). Earache professional help. Sometimes yoga and emotionally and spiritually. can be in one ear or both ears. Should the seek deep breathing techniques can push through pain last more than three days, then it is blockages with the energy of the body, and in By Sarah Swindlehurst important to have a GP or nurse assess the ear.
the physical body itself. Practising the yoga postures here with Ujjayi breathing could possibly release or ease pain/pressure.
Yoga Mountain Posture (Tadasana)
Start standing with your feet hip distance apart and the toes pointing forwards. Have your arms by the sides of your body and the palms facing inwards to your sides. Lift your chest up so that your spine lengthens. Feel the weight from the ball of the big toes, to the outer little toes, to the outer heels, then to the inner heels, and back around to the ball of the big toes. Feel a connection to the ground beneath your feet and feel the energy from the Earth. Draw this energy upwards through your body and to the top of your head, and then feel the energy from above the crown of your head move down through your body and out through your feet into the Earth. Do this with the breath, either with your eyes open or closed for up to 5 minutes. Affirmation: I am connected to the Earth, and Spirit above, and I trust in myself.
Yoga Cobra (Bhujangasana)
Start by lying on the front of your body. Place the hands under your shoulders. Lengthen and strengthen through the whole body and inhale push with the hands to lift the chest off the floor. Gently arch the back backwards. Keep the elbows tucked in and aim to relax the shoulders. Gaze slightly upwards without pulling with the chin (use your eyes to gaze up) towards the third eye centre. Hold here for five breaths and then exhale release down. Repeat as you wish. Affirmation: My energy flows fully as I breathe (inhale/exhale).
Yoga Ear Pressure Pose (Karnapidasana)
Start in Plough Pose (Halasana) with your hands on your back. Bend your knees and bring them to the floor on either side of your head. Rest the tops of your feet on the floor. Press the knees gently with a light pressure to the ear so that you hear less for a little while (blocks aural distractions). Breathe three to five breaths here and then carefully roll down the spine onto the mat using your hands as support on the floor.
Affirmation: I hear my inner wisdom and I hear all things outside of myself fully (inhale/exhale).
Pranayama Brahmari Breath (Bee Breath)
Start sitting in a comfortable position. Place the thumbs over the ears and press lightly. Place the first two fingers over the eyes to help keep the eyes closed and to take all your awareness inwards. The last two fingers can be on the top and bottom of the lips keeping them closed (optional). Take a deep inhale through the nose, and then exhale as slowly as possible whilst making a hum sound with the mouth closed (like a bee). Inhale again and repeat. Do this for 10-15 breaths. Affirmation: I release all blockages and fully hear (inhale/exhale).
In case of inflammation within the ear, it is advisable to avoid any foods that cause more inflammation. So eliminate sugars, grains, gluten, and the â€˜night shadesâ€™ such as white potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers which can also irritate the body. Make sure you drink plenty of noncaffeinated fluids also and flush your system out daily by drinking 1.5-2 litres of filtered water or herbal teas. Citrus fruit and juices contain vitamin C that builds immunity and reduces congestion in the ears and nasal passages. Berries and pineapples are also good natural solvents of mucous. Onion
and garlic eaten raw or in supplement form can help dissolve the mucous build up if the ear is blocked, and can help to reduce ear pain. Supplement your diet with a good multivitamin.
What your body is saying
When a person has earache or complaints of the ear, it usually suggests that you are not listening to your inner wisdom, and/ or the wisdom of another. It suggests that you do not want to hear what is being said to you, or by your own intuition. It could also be that you (or your body) does not want to hear other people and that you need to withdraw from what you feel is other people wanting to control you. You may perhaps be experiencing a resistance to change and not wanting to flow with life. This could result in your also being a little too judgemental or critical with yourself and others. Change in life is inevitable and so it is important for you to trust in the flow of life, and in yourself. Having some yoga time with yourself can help you release any blockages that are holding you back from flowing. Yoga will help you to tune in to yourself and listen to your inner wisdom, resulting in you being able to move forwards and flow. Sarah Swindlehurst is the founder of The Yogic Prescription (theyogicprescription.com)
Yoga A-Z T is for Tapas. By Carole Moritz
y father was a WWII vet. He was an MP (Military Police), and lived to tell about his experiences in the Battle of the Bulge. Of his pack of 10 high school lads, my dad was the only one that came home alive. In rare moments, he shared some of his war stories, watered down versions to spare the listener. Some experiences, I’m sure, went to the grave with him. When I was 23, I was calling on a client where my dad had worked when a woman found me and said, “I knew your dad. He worked here 15 years ago and no one taught us more about team work than him.” He was a hero on all fronts.” At my father’s funeral the one word used to describe him was ‘integrity’. He was whole, undivided, and had a structural sturdiness to consistently uphold what was honest and fair. My dad used to tell me: “just remember one thing: keep moving forward.” I think it was that singular fiery belief that connected him to his own determination and will to stay alive in the freezing cold of the dense forests of the Ardennes region and to come back and marry my mother. And when he returned stateside, he took that internal fire to create a family and pursue a career that took him to executive levels. He balanced that heat by cooling off with a round of golf, watch football or hang by the pool. Seeing him lying supine on a chaise, he always had a little Buddha smile – that man knew how to take life in and soak up the rays of the sun. He was grateful and glad to be alive and it showed. When I took yoga teacher training, like something out of Harry Potter there was a magic hat that would assign us a yama or niyama – the traditional precepts of yoga that invite us to create greater harmony for ourselves to move us toward greater peace. Mine was Tapas. Tapas is internal fire. We willingly develop discipline, and follow our burning desire to learn which cultivates healthful habits and breaks unhealthy ones on and off the mat. It is building awareness and capacity to tolerate strong sensations, to know where your real limits are. Therein lies the rub: because right action may mean to not do something because it causes you suffering. So, thank you, dad…not only for your service but for being a shining example of Tapas. I’ll keep moving forward.
OMFM OM FOR MEN
Page 48: Helping the heroes Page 51: Man on the mat
HELPING the HEROES Yoga is playing a vital role in the work of forces charity Help for Heroes
oga, to some, may not be the most obvious tool to help wounded, injured or sick serving and veteran members of the Armed Forces. However, this ancient discipline is now being used by the charity, Help for Heroes, (helpforheroes.org.uk) to help both former and current servicemen and women overcome their physical and psychological injuries from their time in action. And it plays a significant role in the road to recovery for many of our suffering heroes. Suzie Jennings is a yoga expert and the first to be employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) six years ago to develop classes for wounded veterans. She has been running the yoga sessions for Help for Heroes since 2012. “Yoga helps our wounded manage their physical and emotional state, and enables them to regain a sense of calm and peace and to see obstacles as manageable challenges, as well as providing their families with vital tools to support them,” she tells OM.
From her experience of hands-on and on-the-floor assists, it became clear that a more specialised and structured programme would be needed and so the Adaptive Yoga Programme was born. This is specifically tailored for the unique requirements of the course participants. While the sessions are designed partly to rebuild strength, they also aim to alleviate post-combat symptoms such as insomnia, depression, phantom pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Classes consist of learning to be fully present in the body, breathing techniques, relaxation, as well as the postures and their benefits. Therapeutic yoga, Reiki, meditation and yoga nidra are all part of the yoga experience at Help for Heroes. The next step is to attract more yoga teachers to this niche, but so crucial, area of expertise. After her years of experience, Jennings realised that there did not seem to be any other yoga teachers working in this field. She felt that it was important that all her knowledge and expertise
L-R: Yoga teacher Suzie Jennings; former Corporal Josh Boggii; Help for Heroes’ Emma Wilding
“I feel great after the yoga, and at night, when I can’t switch off, Suzie’s breathing techniques calm me down.” - former Corporal Josh Boggi needed to be passed on to other instructors. Acknowledging the need for the continued support of our serving and veteran personnel, she had the idea of training yoga teachers in her programme – and with the backing and support of Help for Heroes, she established the Adaptive Yoga Teacher Training Programme (AYTTP). Ten students have graduated already with another course set to begin soon to expand the pool of qualified instructors.
One veteran who has felt the benefit of the yoga sessions is former Corporal Josh Boggi. He joined the army in January 2004 at the age of 17, as he’d always wanted to be a soldier. His father served for 11 years and he aspired to follow in his footsteps. Josh was blown up two months into his third tour of Afghanistan after stepping on an IED (improvised explosive device). It was New Year’s Eve 2010. He was casevaced back to Camp Bastion and was put to sleep on the helicopter. When he woke up seven days later in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, his father broke the news that his back was broken and both his legs were amputated. Later, his right arm was amputated. Like many of the amputees at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre at Tedworth House in Wiltshire, his recovery has been aided by adaptive yoga.
He says: “I feel great after the yoga, and at night, when I can’t switch off, Suzie’s breathing techniques calm me down.” In creating more teaching staff, each of the four Help For Heroes Recovery Centres will be able to offer adaptive yoga, benefiting the wounded and their families across the country. Among other areas, participants learn to guide beneficiaries to be non-judgemental and gain confidence, self-awareness and compassion for themselves, as well as to build affirming emotions, using challenges to grow and heal. “We look forward to rolling out adaptive yoga and mindfulness classes in all our recovery centres very soon with a long term aim to offer online resources, making this an accessible tool for all, not just in the recovery centres but from their own home or on the move,” says Jennings.
The Adaptive Yoga Teacher Training Course is an eight-day residential course held exclusively at Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House, Wiltshire. The course is designed for fully trained, experienced and insured yoga teachers who wish to work in the field of trauma in wounded, injured and sick military personnel, active and veterans. For information, please contact the team at Help for Heroes: firstname.lastname@example.org
MAN ON THE MAT:
FM WITH BRETT MORAN
One Legged Crane Pose (Eka Pada Bakasna)
You learn a lot of patience and discipline from arm balances. Like anything worth learning in life it’s a journey, and a strong crane pose means we have practiced and taken our time to build inner strength. Arm balances might look easy, but persistence and perseverance are the keys. When you conquer your fears and build confidence through Eka Pada Bakasna it helps you overcome other fears on the mat such as handstands, plus many fears off the mat in life. Overall, the crane pose is a confidence-boosting pose and brings balance, strength and harmony in to our daily practice.
The biggest mistake most people make when trying to get into any arm balance or handstand is that they jump straight into it rather then building the foundation. Work on your flexors, the muscles on the back of your arms, every day. Strengthen them first and you’ll be holding one legged crane and handstand in no time.
n P ut this move into a regular routine. n When I’m on my mat flowing through my practice I jump into Bakasana and lift my knees as high up the back of my arms as I can. After a few mindful breaths, I lift my right leg and stretch it out and hold it for a count of five to ten breaths. n I then do the same on my left leg and flow back into my sequence with more strength and energy.
Bring your awareness to your fingers, grip the mat, push your shoulders in and take your gaze up. If you’re looking down worried you’re going to fall flat on your face then chances are you’ll fall flat on your face. Lift your head, look up and in front of you – remember energy flows were your attention goes.
Super food special Meet the SUPERFOODS
he craze for superfoods is everywhere these days – the media seems to latch on to a new superfood almost every week. From garlic to goji berries to green tea, the demand for new healthy food products and supplements has never been higher. And for good reason too, as people search for better ways of living and to retain some of that vigour and vitality lost in the modern digital, desk-bound era. There are the old fruit and veg favourites like blueberries, broccoli and beetroot plus more exotic, recent discoveries like maca powder and matcha tea. Then there are multi vitamins and green powders too offering a powerful boost to your smoothies and juices in the morning. And these goodies have taken on a life of their own – just scroll through the images on social media by health and foodie bloggers celebrating the small army of antioxidants on their dinner plate. The clean-eating Instagram brigade have turned healthy food into a work of art.
And the trend continues. Last year, everyone was talking about kale, coconut oil, avocados, acai and agave. This year, the mainstream media reports that tree water will replace coconut water, avocado oil will replace coconut oil, and an obscure South American root (maca) will be added to smoothies throughout the land. Seaweed, sprouted grains, and some more obscure new arrivals – kohlrabi, the ‘turnip cabbage’ and teff, a gluten-free Ethiopian crop set to overtake quinoa - are also on the rise. Whilst these foods hold all sorts of elixir properties, they are no magic bullet. A healthy diet is one that is typically varied, and based on a wide mix of food types. Heck, even dark chocolate and red wine are supposed to be good for us in small quantities. As a student of yoga, be guided by your own body, integrating new foods and any supplements into a balanced and holistic healthy lifestyle. Integration of mind, body, and the food fuel that you put inside it, is the ultimate route to health and healing. Exploring the latest healthy food trends is great fun (be honest, hands up who’s even heard of teff, for instance?). But being super in life means more than just gulping the most popular superfoods. Eat, drink and be merry... but keep up the yoga too.
Get SOME in
Super food special
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Vegetarian and lacking in energy? “B12 is a critical nutrient, crucial for supporting energy levels and reducing fatigue,” says Andrew Thomas, founder of BetterYou (better you.com). He says vegetarians are often deficient in B12 as it is found in meats and fish, and in smaller amounts in milk and eggs. However, unlike some other B vitamins, it is not found in any plant food other than fortified cereals. BetterYou’s B12 Boost Oral Spray is a quick and effective way to get your daily dose to help keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. “B12 is a vital nutrient and by taking it orally in spray form ensures that the vitamin is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.”
Chlorella is highly valued in Japan as a natural food that not only detoxifies the body, but also strengthens the immune system. It’s also nature’s richest plant source of chlorophyll. Chlorella contains unique Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which is believed to help repair damaged tissue.
According to Patrick Holford, one of the UK’s best- known nutrition experts, you aren’t what you eat, you are what you can digest. Spirulina is 60-70% pure protein that’s 95% digestible. It’s perhaps nature’s most potent gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and betacarotene, widely used to help keep your brain, blood, eyes and skin healthy.
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Super food special
The MACA factor
Rory Kirkwood charts the rise of maca, the Peruvian wonderfood
uperfoods have been a growing phenomenon in the last couple of decades, starting with fairly common things like the blueberry and growing with the inclusion of all sorts of fruits and veg - both as they were ‘discovered’ and as greater depths of scientific research began to reveal their previously unexplored nutritional value. From the goji berry to kale, and on and on, the market for nutritional heavy hitters has grown leaps and bounds. There’s a bit of a craze going on at the moment for one of Selva Organic’s curious superfoods, hailing from Peru, commonly known as maca. Given that we’re talking about a tuberous root vegetable that resembles a cross between a failed swede and a parsnip, its beneficial properties are clearly found beneath the surface. Young ladies of many ages from their twenties up through their forties and beyond have taken a keen interest. So what’s it all about? A little background first on the ‘legend’ of the maca plant. Its origins can be traced back quite literally for millennia, as it’s
thought to have been an important part of the prehistoric Andean people’s staple diet since at least 2,000 BC. A tough specimen, it can grow at altitudes over 14,000ft and survive temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius. No wonder it was so valued by cultures inhabiting some fairly agriculturally inhospitable climes. It wasn’t just maca’s hardiness, though, that made it such an important crop, as it was clearly identified as a highly nutritious food long before the rigours of modern scientific analysis were available. And more than just its value to a reliable diet, there are stories of maca being consumed by Inca warriors to boost their energy and vitality prior to battle, to such an extent that it was banned to prevent excesses of salacious behaviour in the wake of victories. But in today’s world, maca is simply regarded as highly nutritious. Whereas some superfoods are astronomically abundant in particular things like antioxidants, maca is a bit of a jack of all trades. It possesses high levels of vitamin C, but also dietary fibre, protein, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, iron,
calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. That’s a huge range of nutritional clout for one vegetable. Perhaps the key reason why it has been taken up with such fervour is that it’s renowned for improving one’s libido. Basically, it’s an aphrodisiac. This isn’t just a myth of ancient South American folklore, studies have been done and reveal that maca really does increase sexual function and fertility. A further notable application of maca is in reducing menopausal discomfort, so we’re not just talking about frisky business here, it has real benevolent character beyond its nutritional value. Novel biochemical compounds found within maca have been demonstrated to function highly effectively as an organic adaptogen, promoting homeostasis – essentially, hormonal balancing. It means maca’s potential range of benefits and general improvements to quality of health and life are quite striking. Rory Kirkwood is the Digital Manager at Selva Organic (selvaorganic.com)
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Super food special
Take time out for TURMERIC Could turmeric be the ultimate ‘super-spice’ to solve modern day health woes? By Sebastian Pole, ayurvedic and herbal practitioner and master herbsmith at Pukka Herbs
urmeric, Curcuma longa, also known as the ‘the ‘Golden Goddess’ in India, has been used for thousands of years in ayurvedic traditions as a medicinal herb as well as an essential ingredient in every curry. Pigments known as curcuminoids give this radiant-root its characteristic vibrant yellow colour. These pigments are one of over 200 compounds and are responsible for some of the main therapeutic properties of this renowned anti-inflammatory. Curcuminoids have a diverse range of activity, but work within the body as antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatories whilst also enhancing
circulation, protecting the brain, rejuvenating the liver and targeting pain. Turmeric is also brimming with valuable essential oils that enhance the efficacy of curcumin and make turmeric an all-round, ‘super-spice.’ Turmeric has always been traditionally popular with yogis to help stretch their ligaments and repair injuries. In modern day herbal medicine, turmeric is advised for improving blood health: cleaning it for healthy skin, moving it for better circulation and nourishing it for good health. Its timehonoured position has made turmeric the natural practitioners go-to herb for addressing the underlying causes of so many of today’s degenerative diseases.
The incredible medicinal benefits of turmeric: NATURAL PAINKILLER: Turmeric is a superb anti-inflammatory, which actively inhibits certain inflammatory pathways within the body, significantly impacting upon external and internal inflammation. This has made turmeric a first choice for inflammations of the musculoskeletal system and the digestive system. It has been demonstrated as being particularly effective for chest and abdominal pain, frozen shoulder and menstrual cramping. This, along with its strong anti-inflammatory actions, makes
turmeric a fantastic remedy for inflamed, swollen and painful joint conditions. n Digestion: For all intestinal infections and mucus conditions, turmeric helps to reduce pathogenic bacteria in the gut. It has recently been proven to have an affinity for the large intestine and have shown to play a preventative role in bowel cancer. Clinical trials have also proven its efficacy at treating dyspepsia and stomach ulcers. n Liver: Turmeric has a stimulant effect on the liver and increases the flow of blood through the hepatic system, increasing bile output and helping to dissolve and prevent gallstones. It is traditionally considered a blood ‘purifier’ and is often used for beautifying the skin and clearing up skin conditions.
n Brain: India has one of the lowest levels of Alzheimer’s in the world. This is partly attributed to the daily consumption of small amounts of turmeric. Average consumption in India is about 1g per day. n External: Turmeric is excellent for reducing pain as a topical application in bruises, infections, sprains and pain. Use it carefully as it is very staining to the skin and anything it comes into contact with. TRADITIONAL USE: Turmeric’s traditional use with black pepper, ginger, milk or ghee reveals an ancient insight into how we can enhance the bio-availabilty and efficacy of the turmeric; enjoying your whole turmeric with spice and fat can be beneficial.
n Heart: Turmeric nourishes the heart by virtue of its blood building quality. By increasing blood flow and reducing total cholesterol, turmeric helps the functions of the heart.
TAKING TURMERIC SUPPLEMENTS: Most curcumin and turmeric supplements on the market today have been extracted with hexane, ethyl acetate, acetone or methanol. All have questionable environmental credentials and this process strips the other synergistic compounds that are essential in gaining the full health benefits of the turmeric. More cutting-edge methods – including Pukka Herbs Wholistic Turmeric extract – that combine super critical extraction with tincture extraction are by far the most natural, therapeutic and effective ways in capturing the best method of herbal extraction in order to get full potential of this incredible spice. Turmeric supplements can be taken on a daily basis to support overall good health.
n Infections: It is an excellent antibiotic, useful in treating fevers, and sore throats.
For more information on turmeric and other medicinal herbs, visit: pukkaherbs.com
n Female health: In India turmeric has been traditionally used to treat fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, dysmenorrhoea, and amenorrhoea by reducing congestion and stagnation. n Joints: Turmeric treats inflammation of the joints, alleviates pain and strengthens the joints and tendons. It is useful for treating gout, arthritis, broken bones and wounds.
Selva Organic grows its own Maca in the exquisite Junin Region of Peru. Dried and milled into a fine powder, it makes an exceptional supplement, balancing hormones, increasing energy and enhancing fertility. In addition to being highly nutritious, it is one of the definitive superfoods. For 10% off, use code OMYOGA on our website
Super food special
The ayurvedic guide to
A guide to superfoods by dosha type. By Dr Donn Brennan
yurveda means the science (Veda) of life (Ayur), and is the oldest known healthcare system in the world. It is known as the sister discipline of yoga, as both are derived from the same ancient texts. Ayurveda tells us that an important key to health is knowing our own mind-body type, which gives us the knowledge to adjust our diet and routine to improve our lives. This can be important in making choices and even in selecting the right superfoods and supplements for our dosha type. Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation and structure, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These primary forces, or doshas, are responsible for the characteristics of our minds and bodies.
Vata types tend to be thin with bony limbs and fine, dry skin. Their hands and feet are often cold and dry. They have a variable appetite and like salty, sweet and sour foods and prefer warm or hot drinks. Vata types are creative, enthusiastic, active, alert and restless. Pitta types tend to have a moderate physique with a muscular body and soft, lustrous, warm skin. They have a strong metabolism, good appetite and digestion. They take a larger quantity of food and like bitter, sweet and astringent foods. Pitta types are determined, focused, ambitious and intelligent. Kapha types tend to have well developed bodies with broad shoulders, soft, oily and lustrous skin with a light complexion. They have a regular appetite with a relatively slow digestion and like pungent, astringent
and bitter foods, preferring warm drinks. Kapha types are patient, caring, stable and supportive. We each have a mix of all these doshas and most people have a predominance of two. With this information, you can adjust your diet and routine to create more joy in everyday life. Herbal food supplements can also be taken for balance alongside a healthy diet. Some Indian and western spices are well known for their benefits for each mind-body type. See the chart opposite for just a few popular ones. Dr Brennan MD is the founder of the Ayurveda Practitioners Association in the UK and an ayurvedic practitioner for over 30 years. Visit: LivingAyurveda.co.uk/ ayurvedic-superfoods
FOR ALL MIND-BODY TYPES
Moringa – Moringa oleifera
Iron (known as the miracle tree – for all round benefits)
Overall health. A good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics.
Arjuna – Terminalia arjuna
Stable heart rhythms. Improves cardiac muscle strength. Decreases the LDL cholesterol levels.
VATA Bala – Sida cordifolia
Bala normalises vata and soothes excited nerves.
Cinnamon – Cinnamomum verum
Antioxidants and anti-inflamatory. Blood cleansing, circulation, balancing Vata.
Ginger – Zingiber officinale
Potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus
Blood sugar levels, Digestion and cleansing. Good for Vata and Kapha.
Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
Vitamins B-3 & C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron
Sweet and a little bitter and so balances Pitta. Good for digestion.
Amla – Phyllanthus emblica
100 g of amla has astoundingly 445 mg of Vitamin C
Very high levels of Vitamin C. High in protein and amino acids. Also good for Vata.
Goji – Lycium barbarum
Vitamin B2, vitamin C, iron and a range of amino acids
Overall tonic. Also good in smaller amounts for Vata.
Long Pepper – Piper longum
Stimulates digestion and is good for the respiratory system and lungs. Can help reduce stored fats.
Super food special
Gary Hannam and Joy Draper in Nairobi
Olivado workers on the road to the factory. Mt Kenya in the background
AVOCADO oil from Africa
Everyone loves avocados but hands up if you’ve tried avocado oil? Joy Draper of Olivado describes her company’s journey to bring this niche product to the kitchens of the world
ownward dogs on the verandah of an avocado oil factory in the Central Highlands of Kenya, magnificent Mount Kenya emerging in the equatorial sunrise. It’s not always easy running a business in Africa… but moments like this make it all worthwhile. Our journey to equatorial Africa started with a small investment in Olivado, an avocado oil production company in New Zealand. Four years later, in 2007, we went in search of another source of the delicious green fruits from which we make our extra virgin avocado oil. Avocado oil was still new to the food and health industry at that time, but already demand was beginning to exceed our supply, and New Zealand just couldn’t supply enough avocados. So off we went to Nairobi, with optimism and enthusiasm – and our yoga mats – to set up a pilot project in an existing factory just outside the city. Within six months we were certified organic and fair trade by IMO, a Swiss certifier, and had certified the 600
small famers from whom we bought the fuerte avocados to produce our first year’s supply of organic and fair trade oil. It wasn’t easy, but finally, in November 2007, the first drops of our fine green oil ran from the decanter. Nine years on, we buy our fruits from almost 1,500 farmers, have moved production to a purpose-built factory closer to the farms, and sell our Olivado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil in 35 countries. Most of the farmers who supply us, at least half of whom are women, farm on small subsistence farms, from 2 acres to 50 acres, growing a variety of crops. Having a sure market for their avocados, at premium prices, has enabled many of them to build new homes, put in water tanks, buy school uniforms and books for their children, and to make improvements to their farms. There are a number of cows in the Central Highlands of Kenya called Olivado, named after our company. But it’s been a long journey bringing avocado oil from ‘niche product’ to pantry staple. With its very high smoke point, it’s
the most versatile of extra virgin oils, for use in everything from salads and dips to high heat pan and wok cooking. The process of making chefs, nutritionists and food writers aware of the importance of using healthy oils in all food preparation has been a torturous one. At last, we are seeing this happen, possibly driven by the higher awareness of consumers interested in healthy eating. Our factory staff used to laugh at our devouring avocados. But we’ve noticed that now they all enjoy eating avocados as part of their lunch, and the factory cook wouldn’t use anything other than avocado oil in her cooking. An organic garden in the factory grounds produces vegetables and fruits to supplement the meat and and ugali (a thick maize porridge) that constitutes an essential part of the Kenyan diet. But no matter how we try, we haven’t yet managed to get any of them to join us in our morning yoga sessions on the factory verandah! Find out more at: olivado.com
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Escapes in Provence Here at Olives and Vines we aim to provide our guests with an experience they will not forget. We have created a range of different Escapes from Yoga and Pilates through to cookery courses. Whether youâ€™re looking for a rejuvenating break from the stresses of day to day life or you simply want to develop your interests in a beautiful location we are here to provide you with an unforgettable experience. All of our Escape Holidays take place at the newly renovated luxury house Mas des Avelines. The house is set in the peaceful undulating hills north of Bandol, and is just a short distance from the coast. Mas des Avelines achieved 5 stars from the French Tourist Board in July 2014. For further details please go to www.escapesatolivesandvines.eu or call Su on +33 6 33 31 12 46
20, 21, 22 May 2016 EventCity, Manchester
Welcome to the third OM Yoga Show Manchester â€“ itâ€™s time to experience the most yogic weekend of the year! Turn over the page for just a few highlights to look forward to... 65
om yoga show preview
OM Yoga Show Manchester, EventCity If you’ve visited the OM Yoga Show before, you’ll know what to expect: a yoga paradise, with classes, workshops, exhibitors and therapies, all gathered under one roof to ensure that you have the most relaxing weekend you could possibly imagine. And if you’ve never visited, what are you waiting for? You’re in capable hands, as the world’s most exciting and passionate teachers lead classes to help you hone your skills. If you are just starting on your yoga journey, you may be wondering if you’re more suited to vinyasa, or hatha, or maybe even hot yoga. This is the perfect place to find out; open classes are free and suitable for all levels – take your first steps on your journey. In-depth workshops are ideal for those with a little more experience; head along to the workshop desk to book your tickets! A pop-up hot yoga studio will leave you sweating, and a dedicated children’s yoga studio means that you can bring the kids and let them take part in their own yoga classes. Take some time away from the mat to recharge – grab
a healthy snack, and browse our amazing exhibitors, all committed to ensuring that you get the most out of your practice. Yoga accessories and mats, clothing, superfoods, and even yoga retreats await you; wander around the exhibition and prepare to be amazed at everything on offer. And don’t forget to stop by the OM Yoga & Lifestyle stand – as ever, we’ve got goodie bags for everyone who subscribes. www.omyogashow.com/manchester
Thank you to our sponsors
OM Yoga Show Manchester Highlights
Open Classes We have 150 open classes at the show offering free classes over the weekend. They cover a wide range of styles and cater for beginners as well as the more advanced. Come and try something new!
Hotpod Yoga Experience Hotpod Yoga – highly accessible hot vinyasa yoga held in their entirely unique, cocoon-like, pop-up hot studio in the main hall.
Relax Kids Yoga Studio The perfect way for your child to explore yoga and have fun at the same time! Classes will include balancing, partner work, breath and flowing inversions.
The Self Realisation Area With Sahaja Yoga Meditation this unique experience is open to all and will be taking place throughout the show.
Tree Of Life Meditiation Area Sessions run by Brahma Kumaris – www.innerspace.org All sessions are FREE to attend
OM Stage Performances by renowned artists and teachers from around the world, with an exciting and memorable atmosphere.
om yoga show preview
OM Yoga Show Manchester Workshops
Every Body is a Yoga Body with Donna Noble This workshop will demonstrate that yoga is for everyone; the aim of which is to dispel some of the myths. Here’s your opportunity to find out what yoga can do for you. So why not start your yoga experience by attending this workshop. £8
The Art of Balance with Emily-Clare Hill Workshop with the FACE OF OM 2016. A playful class taking on the attitude of Krishna being “playful” in our approach to the art of balancing. Expect to be challenged by a few postures but give them a go anyway. £8
YogaMotion with Charlene McAuley & Christoph Seiland Moving across the mat with strength and flow, YogaMotion has been created to encompass most of our movement abilities and not only a select few. £8
Power Vinyasa Evolved Master Class with Dylan Ayaloo A playful and dynamic class that’ll help you tune in to the power of your body and spirit. £7
Get the show guide
20, 21, 22 Ma EventCity, Manchy 2016 ester
For a full and detailed guide to all the amazing workshops, free classes, exhibitors and highlights at the OM Yoga Show Manchester visit www.omyogashow/manchester to order your copy of the show guide or download a PDF version. FREE SHOW GU IDE
OPEN: Friday 11am -6pm • Saturday 1 day Entrance 10am-6pm • Sunda Ticket on the y 10am-5pm Save Money – book door: Adult £9 • Concession £7.50 (under 16 Free) online in advance at www.omyogasho w.com YSM SHOWG
Free open classes all day •Shake Your Asana with Aimee Garcia-Marshall
•OM Chanting with Bhakti Marga
•Kundalini Yoga to Open Your Heart with KYTA
•Mind the Gap! with Mick Timpson
•Freedom from Tension with Ann-Marie Mainprize
•Yoga for Swimming with Chetana Thornton
•Mythic Yoga Flow – ‘Ganesh is Fresh’ with Jackie Quayle
•Bend if Like Beckham (or Ryan Giggs!) with Sarah Ramsden
•Yoga for Beginners – Peace of Mind with Sara Colombo
•Yoga for Beginners – Peace of Mind with Sara Colombo
•How to go upside down with confidence with Granville Cousins
•Chakra Dancing with Dee
•Laughter Yoga with Robin Graham
• Plus many more!
•AcroYoga with Eugene & Pip
om yoga show preview
OM Yoga Show Manchester Exhibitor Zone Jewellery Yoga Clothing Studios Crystal Healing Thai Yoga Massage Yoga Mat Bags Meditation Shawls Herbal Teas Native American Crafts Yoga Blocks Singing Bowls Yoga Straps Bolsters Meditation Ayurveda Boxing Yoga Posture Correcting Yoga Classes Organic Skin Care Chi Balls Magnetic Therapy
Meditation Cushions Yoga Mat Design Leggings Animal Charities Therapy Courses Yoga Therapy Childrenâ€™s Yoga Yoga Teacher Training Coconut Oil Yoga Retreats Essential Oils Yoga DVDs Yoga Workshops Pregnancy Yoga Life Coaching Mineral Analysis of Hands Seated Massage Healthy Snacks Body Positive Yoga Blenders Coconut Water
Yoga for Autism Massagers Sports Yoga Malas Henna Incense Monthly Subscription Boxes Bath Salts Raw Eating Vegan Chocolates Spiritual Healing Acro Yoga Himalayan Salt Lamps Healing Music Yoga Socks Yoga for Cancer Qi Therapy Kundalini Yoga Smoothies and Juices
Vegan and vegetarian food available throughout the weekend.
om yoga show preview
Competition Win tickets to the OM Yoga Show Manchester 2016 We are giving away 30 tickets (3 day pass for 2 people) to the OM Yoga Show Manchester worth £40 each! Each ticket will admit two people for three days into the OM Yoga Show Manchester.
Entry closes on 12th May 2016 – Good Luck!!!
To enter please go to ommagazine.com/manchester2016
20, 21, 22 May 2016 EventCity, Manchester Exhibition Opening Times Friday 20th May 2016: 11am - 6pm Saturday 21st May 2016: 10am - 6pm Sunday 22nd May 2016: 10am - 5pm Admission Prices One day pass: Adult £9 | Concession £7.50 Two day pass: Adult £15 | Concession £12.50 Two day pass: Adult £20 | Concession £16.00 Children under 16 are free but must be accompanied by a paying adult and be supervised at all times. Concession: OAP (over 60), disabled, unemployed and students in full time education (proof will be required).
Book online and SAVE! Call 01787 224040 or visit
om mind Meditation of the month
Get rid of the
Surrender to the moment
A meditation for melting guilt and allowing the body to return to its natural state of health. By Jill Lawson
uilty feelings can make us sick. If it isn’t a knot in our stomachs, or a tightening of our chests, it’s the blocking of our healthy flow of vital energy that can disrupt our immune system. We all know the feeling. It is not the familiar fight or flight; rather it is all about freezing, and becoming immobile in the face of the painful truth of wrong action. Being frozen in guilt is not fun. Whatever the source of guilt, whether it is from our own doing, or due to something we should be doing, guilt is a big thorn in the side of peace and happiness. The following meditation will help you thaw out, melt your guilt, and allow your body to return to its natural state of purity and health.
Do it now
Let your body settle into a comfortable position, free from distractions. If there is an incident that brought on your feelings of guilt, recall that incident. If you are not sure why you feel guilty, which can happen, connect deeply to the sensations you are feeling right now. Where are you holding your guilt? Is your stomach tight? Is your jaw clenched? Does your upper back ache? Focus on these tight and uncomfortable sensations for several minutes. Next, use your breath to bring movement into your body. For example, when you breathe, your belly and chest have to move. Allow the wave-like motion of your breath to create a gentle ripple of motion throughout your body. Imagine this same motion concentrating in the places you feel clamped with guilt. See and feel that same wavelike motion penetrating those tight areas of your body. Breathe into your stomach, neck, upper back; whatever is feeling pained by guilt. After several minutes, scan your body with your mind’s eye. You might notice subtle changes in the way you feel. This breathing practice will increase the flow of energy within your body, and you can use it to ease your discomfort. Imagine your guilt just like a heavy fog, only now it is being lifted by a waft of fresh air and renewed energy. Watch it float up into the sky, and dissipate. Forgive yourself. Whether your guilt is earned, or imagined, allowing it to get locked up inside your body is not healthy. Use this meditation not as a way to deny right action, but as a way to let go of those sticky feelings that only serve to keep you stuck.
Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher in Colorado, USA (jilllawsonyoga.com)
TAKE BACK THE POWER
3 negative thoughts that can bring your yoga down – and how to beat them. By Phoenix Fenegan
ou’re standing there, feeling deflated. Just the sight of your yoga mat makes you feel depressed. You used to really love yoga, you loved the freedom of movement, the sense of grace you thought was only for dancers, the joy of rolling on the floor like a child again. But, more importantly, you felt that you had finally found a healthy place your body and mind could call home. Somewhere along the line the enthusiasm waned, the joy dissipated and now yoga seems like just another exercise programme you tried, became disillusioned with, and are now thinking of quitting. Thoughts go through your head: “If only I could be more dedicated to yoga. If only I could quit my job, get rid of those distractions and do yoga properly. Perhaps that teacher training
course would sort me out. Or perhaps I just need a break from it.” Seasoned yogis and beginners alike all get fed up with their yoga practice from time to time, it’s part of the ebb and flow of life. However, there are three negative psychological reasons why we undermine our own good intentions to stick to a regular routine of any exercise, hobby or positive habit.
1. Yoga is too hard
It’s human nature to get enthusiastic with a new venture like yoga. There’s new gear to buy, new circles to socialise in and a new activity to research on the web. But enthusiasm is a double-edged sword. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, except for a couple of thought excesses associated with it. With enthusiasm come two extras we often overlook: over-commitment and unrealistic goal setting.
The other ‘sharp side’ to enthusiasm is setting goals that are beyond our realistic abilities. We set unrealistic goals like: n W e want mental calmness by Wednesday (or another fixed goal time) n We must lose 2lb a week, every week n W e must master an unsupported headstand in a fortnight n I nsert your own pressurised goal here Gaining and losing enthusiasm for a venture like yoga is normal, but it doesn’t have to be fatal to your practice. But before we talk solutions, let’s look at another toxic thought.
2. Yoga is too difficult
We find things too difficult when we place a lot of ‘shoulds’ into what we’re doing. We should know those complicated Sanskrit names, we should be able to do a full lotus pose, we should be experiencing something in meditation by now. The ‘should’ syndrome is pandemic in all areas of our lives and the yoga mat is not immune to its upset. Dwelling on a ‘should’ list is like giving ourselves a regular mental beating. How can we possibly enjoy our yoga practice when we place a lot of ‘should’ in the way? Sadly, without taking preventative steps a defiant ‘should’ list can beat us into submission and replace all the shoulds with “I’ll never…”. From there, it seems there is little choice but to walk away from the yoga mat for good. Take heart if you’ve become a victim of should. It’s so common in our lives it could be classed as normal to think in shoulds. I know I’m guilty of it, but like the dark side of enthusiasm it doesn’t have to ruin your yoga.
3. Yoga is screwing with my life
n n n n n
Our yoga is so exciting, new and wonderful that we over-commit by: Going to classes more advanced that we should Attending too many sessions in a week Staying in poses longer than we should Attempt poses too advanced for us Financially over-committing with gimmicks and memberships we don’t make full use of
“The ‘should’ syndrome is pandemic in all areas of our lives and the yoga mat is not immune to its upset. Dwelling on a ‘should’ list is like giving ourselves a regular mental beating. How can we possibly enjoy our yoga practice when we place a lot of ‘should’ in the way?”
If you took up yoga purely for the physical benefits then the mental and emotional effects yoga can have on your life may come as a bit of a shock. As with taking up any new exercise or health regime, change is a necessary part of discovering our new, improved selves. This can take some adjusting to and can initially cause a bit of disruption. Mentally, we may discover more empty mental space developing throughout the day. This can be disconcerting especially if we feel we ought to be concentrating and thinking things through all the time. Internal silence takes a small adjustment to get used to, there’s no need to fill the void. Yoga also performs an emotional cleansing, releasing baggage we no longer need. We may find ourselves dwelling on a sadness from the past, feeling emotional or getting angry as these old emotions rise to the surface to be released. If emotions are coming up too quickly, or you feel overwhelmed, a small adjustment to your yoga practice is usually all that is needed; talk to your yoga teacher. There’s no need to throw in the towel and walk away. Sometimes an ongoing physical issue flares up and interferes with daily life. Again, this is the cleansing process of yoga. If you’re experiencing these things your yoga teacher will be able to help you. This cleansing is yoga’s path to take you where you want to go – to peace, health and balance. Unfortunately, change can be uncomfortable if we’re resistant to it. By recognising that change is an inevitable part of the journey, we find these changes welcome signposts that we’re making progress toward our goals.
om mind How to find motivation even if you’re ready to quit
Think back to what attracted you to yoga in the first place. Attraction can be based on many things: the desire to look good, feel good, be calmer, be healthy. There’s always an underlying feeling that we’re searching for something when we try something new, but what feeling were we looking for? We want to feel at home in ourselves. We want to feel inner happiness and acceptance. By tuning in to the original feeling that attracted us to yoga we reconnect to our initial enthusiasm. If the negative side to enthusiasm has taken a swing at you, reassess now where overly ambitious goals and eager-beaver commitments may have overstepped the mark. So what can you do if over-commitment and unrealistic goals have ruined your enthusiasm? n C oil your enthusiasm right back and start afresh with the benefit of hindsight n This time, make yoga fit your life rather than the other way round n S ee your sessions as an indulgent excuse to deeply relax, nothing more n B e playful when trying new poses, don’t expect mastery n Only do as much yoga as you can/want to do and accept fluctuations in this n When meditating, remember there is no goal to keep in mind n Set physical goals if you want, but make them totally achievable and fun n Allow the mental space you create in yoga to seep into daily life and enjoy it n S ee rising emotion as a wonderful thing – a chance to finally let it go n T alk to your teacher – if you don’t tell them what’s going on, they can’t help
Self-motivation can be nearly impossible when negative thoughts are running the show. Once we analyse and see where we’ve sabotaged ourselves we can start working towards rebuilding a healthy practice. When emotions arise, be joyous! They’ve popped up to be released so let them go, don’t suppress them. Let them go with a smile and a self-hug, because that’s real achievement in life, and who doesn’t like getting hugs? Ironically, by letting go of our need to master yoga, we begin to master yoga. It’s those pesky little negative thoughts that make yoga seem too hard and complicated, not the yoga itself. The best success you can have in yoga is to consistently arrive at your mat and enjoy your practice. If you’ve managed that today, congratulate yourself. If you haven’t, consider this: You’re standing there, looking at your yoga mat. This time, there’s no desire to push too hard to achieve, there’s no goal in particular you need to complete, and you’ve given yourself a hug because you’re wonderful. Not only are you free of shoulds, unrealistic goals and overcommitments, but you’re actually looking forward to practicing some yoga. You’ve courageously done the work on your negative thoughts and you’re ready for a fresh start. Now you have the insight into the psychological negativities that stops pursuits like regular exercise and new hobbies in their tracks you have the power to apply this knowledge to other areas of your life that have reached a stalemate. It’s time to love your mat again. So, how does practicing a little yoga feel now? Phoenix Fenegan writes and blogs about yoga, health and fitness all over the web, in print and at her blog: phoenixfenegan.com
“The best success you can have in yoga is to consistently arrive at your mat and enjoy your practice.”
om mind De-Stress: Yoga off the Mat
Breath consciousness for
Noticing and understanding how we are breathing is a big first step in living a more balanced, calmer life. By Charlotte Watts
reathing is the clearest signal of your body’s state at any given time. Pulling air into the body and then releasing the waste product carbon dioxide involves large sets of muscles and the usage of these can change according to mood, circumstance and conditionings over time. Our yoga practice helps us tune in to these responses and habits. This means we can be more attuned off the mat, when tension in our minds and bodies creates the stressed breath patterns that signal back to our whole being to keep up this vigilant stance. Noticing is the first step to being able to release: 1. Thoracic (chest) breathing: when we’re stressed or the diaphragm can’t move fully, our breath moves to the upper chest and shoulders; this is called secondary breathing. During the fight-or-flight response this causes quicker, shallow breaths. Many people get stuck in this pattern, using up precious energy and creating tension in their neck and shoulders. This is why a teacher will often say “release the shoulders” to students to allow calm through the whole body. 2. Diaphragmatic breathing: this uses the primary breathing muscles, the large upside-down-bowl-shaped diaphragm muscles at the bottom of your ribs. With an easy exchange of filling and emptying the lungs, the chest expands and the diaphragm moves downwards to inhale, rising back up as the chest drops to exhale. Lying down, this breathing can be seen as the belly rising and falling. It’s the most energy-efficient, oxygenating breath and the least stressful to the muscular system.
Research has shown that most people use just 25% of their breathing capacity, tending to focus either into the top of the chest or just in the belly. Breath consciousness in yoga postures helps us feel and engage breath through the whole respiratory system and feel its currents right down to the pelvic floor and up into the head. When we notice these breathing habits in class or in our home practice, we are training ourselves to pause to observe them as a regular reflection during life. In this way, we have the chance to step back, re-group and take a few conscious and releasing breaths when we feel overwhelmed or stressed. Gathering in with the exhalation to evoke full, releasing out-breaths may even come with a sigh of relief for your whole being. Holding strong poses naturally creates challenge, but it is the nature of our breath during them that determines whether they are strengthening or a source of perceived stress for the body. Understanding how our breath changes with tension can help unravel those knots through our whole mind-body. A single breath involves: n INHALATION: pulling the air into the body involves muscular contraction and creates energy, but it can create tension if done with force. It’s better to fully exhale, creating a vacuum into which the in-breath flows effortlessly, most efficiently into a body with least tension. Inhaling activates the energising SNS (sympathetic nervous system), so we naturally enhance it when we want to feel motivated. n EXHALATION: at its best, this is simply letting go of the muscles
om mind that pulled in the in-breath. Stress can tend to make us inhale before the out-breath has completed, so allowing the exhalation to release right to its natural end-point helps its calming action through the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system). The exhalation can naturally lengthen as shoulders, chest and jaw relax more and we can use this to self-soothe. A balance between the two helps find the happy relationship between stimulation and recovery that is the foundation of moving through life with grace. Although the ‘in’ and ‘out’ breaths have equal importance, as stress tends to make the inhalation dominant to keep up excitation, many modern yoga teachings need to emphasise the release of the out-breath. In a culture where we are constantly filling-up with opinions, information and mental noise, the emptying out of the exhalation can be very necessary to counter those feelings of being overwhelmed and too full in the head. In stronger poses, finding the space to open up through the breath can change our relationship to intense feelings, making us more accepting and able to meet strong emotional feelings in life the same way.
The nasal breath
When stressed, many of us breathe through our mouth rather than nose. Mouth breathing is associated with poor posture (tipping head back to ‘gulp’ air) and tiring lack of oxygenation. In yoga, all breathing, unless otherwise instructed, is through the nose, as yogis maintain that prana (life-force) from the breath only enters the body through the nose (and from nourishing food and sunlight). From a scientific standpoint, nasal inhalations cool down the brain’s frontal lobe, calming its activity and warming up air entering the lungs and body for easy oxygen uptake. They also help nitric oxide production, important for immune function and circulation. If you have nasal issues that make this difficult, reducing dairy and sugar in your diet, ensuring good hydration and even visiting a cranial osteopath can help.
What’s your breath telling you?
For many people, attending a yoga class is the first time they may have observed the momentary state of their breath. Others are drawn to yoga through the recognition that they are expressing stress in life through this vital process. Either way, it can be quite disconcerting for any level of practitioner to see how much tension and strife we bring along to the mat with us. Sometimes this reflects a hurried journey to actually get to the class, sometimes stress from the day, week, month, year or the stuff we’re carrying around deep from trauma or childhood. Lying down with your hands on your belly is the best way to arrive into a class. This creates the body awareness into your belly and the support from the ground that can naturally ease and loosen tight breathing and let you ‘just be’. Learning to attune to our breath – on and off the mat – can nurture an intuitive relationship with our whole being and what our mind-bodies need moment-to-moment. Simply feeling our breath state with kindness, openness and acceptance creates the opportunity for change without any sense of needing to fix something that is ‘wrong’. Your body is expressing what it needs to and listening to that helps us relax to drop into more easeful breath and have the chance to come back to whole. 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)
THE YOGA MINDSET How yoga can help reframe our inner dialogue and lead to better choices and a more positive life experience. By Emma Palmer
he wisdom of American Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says that chaos and challenge can be our most spiritually powerful times – as long as we have the courage to sit in the space of uncertainty long enough to gain a deeper understanding. By contrast, our western world encourages us to chase the happier times, to search only for joy and turn away when the road gets tough. There are also moments in life where our reactions are steeped in habit and habit alone. Reactions to circumstances or situations arise and it becomes powerfully clear that our habitual reaction and subsequent response no longer proves to be helpful – confirmed by the way our response takes us down the path of misunderstanding, anger and confusion. Commonly we find ourselves in the midst of an acute challenging situation, created by others, ourselves or circumstance, and the rise of an array of emotions overwhelms and instantly debilitates. In that moment (whether we are aware of it or not), we have two choices: we either go down the rabbit hole of fear and despair, further perpetuating the response; or we acknowledge the emotion as it arises, understand it and then choose a different response more in line with our truth without the hustle of the ego roaring forwards. This is by no means suggesting we suppress or deny the initial response. But what this does suggest is it provides the space and opportunity of choosing to have a deeper understanding and awareness as to our initial emotional reaction – in order to free us to experience our challenges in a different way. The truth is our most challenging times are more often the best opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of self, others and life. However, this understanding is often futile when our perception is blocked by age-old nonconstructive habits. It is essential to recognise and appreciate that in the moment we feel intensely challenged and uncomfortable in a situation that it is also when we are more likely to be on the verge of a breakthrough. This is exactly why we aim not to suppress or deny these reactions, but rather have a deeper awareness of their purpose and what they are trying to teach us.
Harnessing the power of the inner work as Sadhana
The good news is we have the power to change our reactions from being negative or without insight to being positive, conscious and aware of the choice of our reactions in
each and every moment if we’re willing to do the inner work, the Sadhana. In order to establish a long term change, including the creation of a more empowering, thoughtful reaction for self and others, our consistent dedication to our Sadhana is what helps us get there and stay there. The ancient wisdom of the yogis knew this teaching only too well; these ancient teachings were not only practised by yogis over 2,500 years ago, they also provide us with a much needed framework to work within when facing the challenges of the modern world. To live as a yogi in the western world provides challenges the yogi of the past may not have needed to face. Around 400 BC, Patanjali recognised the opportunity to identify the rise of disturbing thoughts and instantly replace that negative thought with one that was more constructive and positive. Patanjali speaks of this concept in the Yoga Sutras, in the second chapter, the Sadhana Pada – also referred to as the chapter in the Sutras that focuses on the discipline required within our Sadhana or spiritual practice. The practice of discipline is a powerful tool to recognise that rather than feeling suffocated by the enforced doctrine of discipline, discipline is in itself the path to the freedom we all value so deeply – without spiritual discipline, we are less likely to experience true freedom at all levels of being.
Understanding Chapter 2, Verse 33
Vitarka-bādhane pratipraksa-bhāvanam found in chapter 2, verse 33, (PYS 2:33) – translated as disturbing or negative thoughts are repelled when we consistently put into practice the questioning of that thought and instantly replacing that with the opposite positive reaction. This Sutra does not refer to the intensity of the more long-term challenges that provide the space for spiritual growth but rather to the instantaneous, moment-to-moment reactions that we have the power to control as they arise. These, of course, then lead to the patterns of longterm, ingrained automatic responses.
“This concept within yogic psychology may sound somewhat familiar bearing in mind the modern use of this theory is widely known today as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT.”
Vitarka is literally translated as questioning, being uncertain at some level that the instant reaction of the negative response is somehow out of alignment with the feelings of the True Self. Bādhane refers to the realisation that the implementation of the opposite reaction is required and the consistent, active participation of the Sadhaka (student of yoga) is required; without conscious intention or implementation, change is unable to manifest. Prati alludes to the concept of the selection of another or different thought or reaction and Paksa literally means wing; which means that it is attached to the same initial reaction, however presents as the opposite. Therefore Pratipaksa refers to the opposite, or reverse, literally speaking, the other wing. Finally, Bhāvanam recognises the perseverance required towards the goal of the desired, opposite outcome. PYS 2:33 provides liberation in acknowledging that we aim not to suppress what we feel but rather we establish awareness of the emotions and thinking patterns that arise as a means for self realisation. And whatever does arise that you would prefer to change, you have the power to change. Recognising our initial reaction requires a commitment to being proactively conscious of the thinking patterns and processes that arise when the negative thoughts present themselves and seeing this as an opportunity for growth and self realisation, the true core teachings of yoga. This Sutra presents the opportunity of choice, where we can either spiral into negative thinking and all the confusion, disconnect and dispassion that comes with it or choose differently. The more we put this into practice the more the new pattern of thinking will become the default response.
The Modern Take of PYS2:33
This concept within yogic psychology may sound somewhat familiar bearing in mind the modern use of this theory is widely known today as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. CBT has been used for over 30 years as a form of psychotherapy to primarily establish long-term change by reversing unhelpful thinking patterns or behaviours to more constructive, helpful, positive, empowering thought patterns. Its major benefits are derived from the focus of strategically managing immediate thoughts and require active participation in order to establish long-term strategies for positive growth and change.
om spirit Neuroplasticity – Be the Change
As we progress through life, these deeply entrenched thinking patterns start to become so automatic, we have forgotten the seed that was originally implanted some years ago. Our brains respond to this automatic process of habitual thought patterns by literally hard wiring us to react in the same old ways and at times without conscious awareness or reflection of our behaviour. Neuroplasticity is the science behind the realisation that there is an intelligence within the brain that has the capacity to change and replace one perception for another. Without this plasticity, not only does the brain become more rigid but so do we. The wise teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, taught the concepts of neuroplasticity long before it became known in the scientific world. It is this understanding of the interconnectedness of consciousness, the mind and the brain, that suggests the very fabric of yoga is in reality a practice of science. The brain is made up of over one hundred million neurons or nerve cells that are interconnected and operate by sending information along these neural pathways. Neuroplasticity is based on the concept that we can consciously change these connections by disconnecting from one thought pattern and reconnecting to new patterns through consistent reinforcement, which further strengthens the neural connections. This means that through neuroplasticity, we can rewire our brains to better manage our day-to-day, momentary challenges by establishing new ways of thinking that are more conducive to positivity through consistent practice. This further amplifies the yogic teachings in that we are constantly growing and evolving, that we can welcome these challenges into our lives because we are armed with the capacity to handle whatever comes. Mother Theresa said: “I know that God will only send me what I can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” These teachings show us that we can adapt to better coping strategies and welcome the challenges that present themselves as an opportunity for us to progress and grow through life. Through consistent dedication to our practice we awaken a strong desire to find a healthier way of thinking, being and living in the world that serves the highest purpose of all concerned. So when someone responds by saying these old patterns of behaviour have become a part of who they are, or ‘that’s just who I am’ the answer quite simply is that it doesn’t have to be. Science has
confirmed that our brains have the capacity to constantly create new thinking patterns, replacing old ones by not only imprinting new neural pathways within the brain but also disconnecting and ‘unplugging’ from the old negative ones.
The Third Law of Motion and Karma
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction, which means that every thought you have that subsequently moves into action is going to create an equal and opposite reaction. Every thought and every reaction to any given situation is going to come back in equal measure.
As thought carries its own vibration, we come to understand that when we move through the process of being consciously aware of our reactions we take this law into consideration and realise that our response to that reaction affects others and self equally. In yoga we recognise we are all connected, nothing is separate – so not only do all involved benefit from the practice of Vitarka-bādhane pratipraksa-bhāvanam, so too in the end does humanity. Emma Palmer is a freelance yoga and health writer living in Australia. A senior yoga teacher, she is also founding principle and director of education at Moksha Yoga in Melbourne (Mokshayoga.com.au
SPACE FOR REFLECTION
1 2 3 4
First recognise the initial or recurring thought patterns that constantly present themselves Identify how and in what way the reactions are contributing negatively to any given situation How would you prefer to see the situation, how would you prefer to see yourself react? Why are you looking to create a new pattern, how does the unhealthy response no longer serve you and what is it that is blocking you from achieving the change? In what way does not making the change serve you in some way?
5 6 7
Connect with where the negative thoughts have come from, when were the seeds first planted and what are they here to teach you? The only way to effect change is to do the work; make a daily commitment to your Sadhana, and to investing in yourself and your growth
Identify the difference between your reaction and your subsequent response. You have the capacity to filter the way in which your thoughts are delivered in order for your truth to be shared in a way that is compassionate and filled with authenticity. Always ensure that what you think and feel is what is communicated in an understanding and compassionate way for all concerned
There is space between your rising reaction and your chosen response. Allow yourself to sit in that space between and react consciously - you are the only one who has control over your thoughts and reactions
Allow time each day for this Sutra as part of your Sadhana. The quiet time that you spend alone, separate from the voice of the world, allows you to better hear your own voice. Cultivate a healthy relationship within so you have awareness of your reactions and aim not to control the challenge in itself as this will further stifle the teachings coming forwards
Trust! Trust! Trust! Know that all the teachings you are ready to receive will come to you, in exactly the ways they are meant to, through the individuals that present them and at exactly the right time. Remember, you are only sent what you can handle, so trust!
International Yoga Day Sunday 19th June 2016 . 8am - 7pm the biggest FREE outdoor yoga event at Alexandra Palace, London N22 7AY
Register for your FREE ticket at www.iyd.yoga Organised by Prime Impact Events & Media in cooperation with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
Cultivating gratitude Could gratitude be the missing ingredient to creating a charmed life? By Chantal di Donato
uthor Victoria Moran wrote a beautiful book called ‘Creating a Charmed Life’ a few years ago. When I listened to her talk about the book, I was very inspired by what she said about finding our ‘free square’, or
that gift that naturally comes to us and brings us the results we want without even trying. I spent a year trying to understand what my gift was and, in the end, I found a few that I would define as my ‘free squares’. But I still didn’t manage to get the result I wanted
using my gifts. With time, I started to realise that I was focusing on why I was not getting the results I wanted, why the ‘charm’ was not happening. I discovered that in order to truly build a charmed life, I needed one special ingredient: gratitude.
When we create a sense of gratitude towards our life or something in our life, then we are able to open our mind to opportunities, and transform a negative into a positive. But how do we become grateful? How do we create a sense of bliss without trying too hard and focusing on the negative instead?
These 5 tips will help:
1. WAKE UP TO A REMINDER It is very easy to live life in autopilot, running from one task to another automatically. The problem with this attitude is that we are not really living the moment, we are just doing things in that moment. To change that, and create a sense of presence and gratefulness for the present moment, set a reminder that you can see as soon as you wake up. Before going to bed the night before, write yourself a note; a reminder of what you are grateful for in that moment. Place that note where you can see it: on the bedside table or on the mirror in your bathroom. Before doing anything else, read that note to yourself and start the day with a sense of purpose and gratitude for the things you have in your life right now. 2. CHECK IN WITH YOUR STRENGTHS It is much easier to be grateful for the life we have when we see results and a tangible outcome. This often becomes hard when we are focusing on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Remind yourself of what your strengths are, what are your ‘free squares’? Maybe you have one that comes to mind at that moment and that is ok, focus on that to begin with and make a list of things you can do utilising your strengths. By doing so, and seeing a positive outcome, which will inevitablly happen, you will be grateful for your gift and your life and gratitude will start becoming a much more familiar and frequent feeling. 3. SWAP THE NEGATIVE AROUND Unfortunately negative experiences and feelings happen to everyone. We are often not prepared for them and when they come; we feel like a tsunami of emotions takes over. We are not in control and we often drown in those feelings. What if, however, we could turn this around, surfing this negative wave to positive land? Gratefulness is that key element that can make it happen. Imagine gratefulness as
a surfboard, riding that wave so that you stay above water, looking at water from above. Suddenly, the wave does not seem so scary anymore and we are able to see the positive, the way out, from where we stand. Try and focus on how you can change a negative into a positive by looking at what is going well in your life and how that can override the negative. There is no magic formula to make negatives disappear in thin air, but we have the power to deal with it rationally and with gratitude instead of fear. 4. LOVE YOURSELF One element that makes gratitude stronger is self-love. Humans very easily create selfdestructive and limiting beliefs that can create the negativity tsunami we often are drowned by. But love really conquers it all. By allowing ourselves to find love within, we are opening our mind to looking at what our gifts are; our positive side. It is all connected and one simple shift in our thinking pattern, can make a huge difference overall. Being grateful for who you are, is the greatest love of all. 5. LET GO OF JUDGMENT Lastly, gratefulness is often left outside the front door when we judge our thoughts and actions. This primal instinct to label and judge everything as good and bad is quite selfdestructive because when we judge we cannot be accepting or even observant. When you let go of judgment and become grateful for any experience, you are able to learn from it. Even if that moment hurts, being grateful allows us to draw a lesson that can then soothe and heal us. We acknowledge that even if we did something that maybe was not great, we are not ‘not great’, we simply made a mistake, and next time we can do it differently, because we are different: we evolved, grew and became more grateful in the process. As with everything that matters, being grateful requires some attention and small meaningful steps to making changes and create new habits. Gratefulness is the glue that connects all the dots together and has the power to transform what we see as an ordinary life into a charmed one. Chantal di Donato is the creator of (liveleanhealth.com)
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YOGA MAT SPECIAL
TRUTH MATS and DOWNWARD DOGS
The demand for yoga mats is on the rise. There’s already a bewildering choice but more mat innovation is on its way
f yoga is growing, then the market for yoga mats is also on the increase. According to US research group Technavio the yoga and exercise mats market in North America will grow at around 5% each year through to 2020. In its report, Yoga and Exercise Mats Market in North America 2016-2020, published earlier this year, it highlights key trends driving consumer appetite for the humble yoga mat. “The growth of the market is mainly attributed to the increased awareness of healthy lifestyles,” the report states. “Physical activity improves not only physical wellness but also boosts mental wellness by relieving symptoms of depression, as well as anxiety, tension, and anger. Thus, increased awareness of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle is likely to have a positive impact on the yoga and exercise mats market in North America.” Similar health and fitness trends are taking shape in the UK and Europe too. It’s good news for yoga mat makers - the report flags big players active in the North American market, such as Barefoot Yoga, Gaiam, Jade Yoga, and Manduka - but it’s good news for yoga enthusiasts too, who already enjoy an unprecedented choice when it comes to choosing their mat.
Why you need a yoga mat
The purchase of a yoga mat may not transform your asana practice overnight, nor will it whisk you off into the sunset of enlightenment, but it’s an important part of your journey nonetheless. Yoga mats can be a very personal thing. Indeed, buying your first mat can be a statement that you are intending to continue with your practice, perhaps after enjoying a few starter lessons. Of course, you don’t have to buy anything. It’s perfectly okay for new students to use the mats provided in a studio, although sometimes you’ll be charged for the privilege. And, at home, it’s great to practice barefoot on the carpet or on the floorboards, or even out in the garden if the sun is shining. Still, a good mat can help elevate your practice, not just in terms of bolstering your commitment. For those with back issues or dodgy knees then a cushioned mat can help. For those hell-bent on hot yoga then a mat that’s not slippy when you sweat is pretty much essential. Or, if you’re travelling, then a lightweight mat is a great thing to take with you so you can keep your practice going anywhere. And there are other more icky reasons too. A number of different infections have the potential to be transferred via communal yoga
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
mats including athletes foot, staphylococcus skin infections, warts and gastrointestinal infections. We all shed skin particles all the time, particularly when we’re active. Microbes on our skin become attached to these particles and are thus deposited onto the mats. The risks are greater if the mats are not cleaned, with sweat and moisture remaining on the mat. All yoga studios know this, of course, and will deploy good cleaning sprays to counter the problem. Still, at least if it’s your mat, then you know that it’s your sweat, skin and microbes, not somebody else’s.
The yoga mat of the future
Deciding on what mat is right for you is another matter. No one size fits all. Price is one of the most important considerations (some of the more expensive mats can cost £100 or more), but make sure that any mat is right for your own individual practice. If you do want a mat for travel then it’s pointless buying something that’s too heavy. Similarly, check the dimensions (length and weight), especially if you’re really tall or require extra comfort and cushioning. The best advice is to ask your teacher and other students what they use and why. This will give you direct feedback on what mats are really like. And, with the market still very much growing, don’t expect things to stand still. According to Technavio, it is becoming an increasingly competitive landscape for mat makers, which means innovation is important to stay ahead of the curve or enhance market share. “Vendors are coming up with innovative and technologically advanced products to enhance the sales of yoga and exercise mats, as well as to sustain in the market,” it says. For instance, the TERA smart mat designed by LUNAR (tera.lunar-europe.com) is an interactive exercise mat. This smart mat, pictured below, tracks body movements through its embedded micro sensors when connected with a tablet or smartphone with its app. Sounds cool…but complicated – and you thought yoga was a simple, ancient practice.
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
The story behind the animal-inspired yoga mat makers at start-up MUMU
Kiwi helicopter heiress and a Brazilian model…they say that truth is stranger than fiction sometimes and in the case of new yoga mat maker, MUMU, that’s certainly the case. One of the new kids on the block in the ever-expanding world of yoga mats, MUMU was set up last year by New Zealander Lara Jane Maloney, daughter of the composite-helicopter inventor, and Keli Dierings, a Brazilian model yoga teacher. The company opened for business earlier in 2016 selling its animalinspired yoga mats, starting with prints of a wild cat and a swan. “We wanted a beautiful yoga mat for our yoga practice, but all we could find were plain colours and the odd design. That’s when we realised there was an opportunity to create our own brand,” says Dierings, a model and a yoga instructor for the New Zealand Warriors rugby team. After a long search, a suitable supplier was eventually found. Maloney says: “It was really important to us that our yoga mat was eco-friendly,
had excellent hand-grip and the surface material was suitable for fullcolour printing. We tick all of those boxes.” For a nation that’s produced the reigning world rugby champions, it’d be hard to disagree. The name MUMU is significant too. “It means Valiant Warrior in Maori and is homage to the company’s New Zealand heritage,” says Maloney.
Find out more at: lovemumu.com
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
MEET MAT your
With thousands of yoga mats to choose from it can be a challenge to find the right one for you
Cute Jute — Asana Natural Jute & PERformance Mat
This mat combines a natural jute surface on the top side with a non-slip floor grip on the underside. The natural jute surface absorbs more moisture than a standard yoga mat surface, so ensuring a firm foot grip. The jute fibres are from a sustainable resource and are biodegradable. isagi.co.uk
Perfect Posture — Atmananda Yoga Mat
Enhance your yoga poses and your alignment and help reduce the risk of injury. This mat is great for self practice or when you are out of class, like having a teacher with you all the time. Seven sizes, from extra large right down to kids. 100% natural rubber. Made in China. $75 atmananda.com
Intrepid Travellers — Jade Voyager Mat
Made from natural rubber in the USA, the Jade Voyager mat is extra thin (1.6mm) and extra light (680g) and folds up to about the size of a yoga block. Great for those on the go or if you like closer contact with the ground. Fun colours, incredible grip, great comfort. And the company plants a tree for every mat sold, with 1 over million trees planted so far. €39.95 jadeyogashop.eu
Soul Seeker — Calmia Eco Mandela Mat
A beautiful coral mandala pattern makes this a perfect mat for the spiritual yogi. The mandala (Sanskrit for ‘circle’) represents wholeness. Designed to be visually engaging to absorb the mind and quieten chattering thoughts, very handy during a meditation session. £20 calmia.com
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
The All-Rounder — EcoYoga Jute Mat
There aren’t many mats made in the UK but this is one of them. The aesthetic and strength of jute, along with the historic connection of the Scottish jute industry in Dundee, inspired the idea. Excellent grip and support (even with a sweat), tactile, natural materials (100% natural rubber & hessian/jute), biodegradable, and made with integrity. Good for pretty much any yoga practice. £42 (standard, 2kg, 4mm) £28 (lighter weight, 1kg, 2mm) ecoyoga.co.uk
Hell Yaa — Yaa Mat
Made from a mix of natural rubber, recycled cotton with a mesh of jute, the mat is double sided: one softer side, with a jute mesh, and a firmer side wth super grip and closed cells. Dimensions: 4 mm thick. Weight 3 kg. 183 cm long. Good for a range of styles including Ashtanga, Power, Vinyasa, Yin, Hatha, Anusara, Sivananda, Pilates. £63 sunsalutation.com
Studio Friendly — Deluxe Agoy Studio Mat
With a good grip, and a little bit thicker, this makes a great studio mat. It has gently curved corners and is an ideal mat for creating a firm, even, non-slip surface on either carpets or hard and cold floors. Made from toxic-free environmental polymer resins, free of phthalates, AZO, phenol and heavy metals. Suitable for all yoga styles and comes in a range of colours. Thickness: 5.5-6.3mm. Dimensions: 61x183cm. Weight 1.5kg. £25.95 agoy.com
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
ECO WARRIORS Picking a mat based on its environmental credentials is a good idea, but one that’s fraught with difficulty
ll yoga mats these days claim to be the most ecofriendly mat on the market. How that’s measured is incredibly complex, however. Mats made from different materials cannot be compared like-for-like, which makes absolute comparisons difficult, or even impossible. So when a company tells you their mat is the most eco-friendly product on the market, take it with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, there is a big shift generally to raise the bar when it comes to sourcing better quality, more ethically-sound and environmentally-friendly mats and other yoga products. Huge strides have been taken in recent years. Just a decade or so ago, pretty much all yoga mats were PVC. The only real decision you had to take was what colour you wanted. New materials have given people greater choice, beyond just ’orange’, ‘black’ or ‘purple’, allowing them to pick something more suited to their individual practice or environmental beliefs, or price range. These days there is overwhelming choice. Look around and you’ll find yoga mats made from TPE (Thermo Elastic Rubber), natural
rubber, synthetic rubber, micro fibre towel with anti-slip protrusions, cotton, jute, you name it. But the devil is in the detail. Materials are sourced from different producers, farms, and even different continents, all with their own rules and standards. Even with PVC, there is the more ecologically-sound phthalate-free, so it’s always a challenge to compare when it comes to finding your perfect ‘ecofriendly’ mat. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You could argue that the best option is using no mat at all, like the ancients of India. Although that’s not always practical - yoga mats can improve grip, comfort and performance - it equates to a zero carbon footprint. Buy a mat that you like and stick with it. Get one that’ll stand the test of time as that’s what will benefit the environment in the long-run. Surely it’s better to buy something (whatever the material) that lasts for 15 years, rather than replacing your expensive, cool-looking ‘eco’ mat after just one year? Having said that, some of those new colours and swirly designs sure do look pretty these days.
YOGA MAT SPECIAL
ow these mats are definitely recycled…from wetsuits. American firm Suga (sugamats.com) produces premium quality yoga mats made entirely from recycled wetsuits in the USA. Inspired by the Californian dream, they’re believed to be the first of their kind. And, because they are manufactured from neoprene, they’re uniquely closed-cell foam, which means they don’t sponge up bacteria, sweat, dust and dirt from studio floors. Right on, dude.
If Yoga holds the potential to transform the Body-Mind landscape why not complement your practice and embrace the health of the Earth
www.ecoyoga.co.uk t: 0131 220 0999
100% Natural Rubber & Jute Yoga Mats
for home - class - travel
Excellent Grip Beautiful Unique
Made in the UK
eatdrinkyoga Healthy eating goodies
Pukka Matcha Tea
Pukka Herbs’ matcha is grown on an organic farm on a volcanic island, called Jeju Do, off the South Korean coast. The new tea range includes: Pukka Mint Matcha Green, Pukka Supreme Matcha Green, Pukka Ginseng Matcha Green and Pukka Clean Matcha Green. £2.79 pukkaherbs.com
Snacking just got healthier. UK-wide delivery of delicious, healthy snack boxes straight to your door, all free from refined sugar, artificial preservatives, sweeteners and flavours. Take your pick from Mangoco (tangy mango bites with crunchy pumpkin seeds and creamy coconut chips) to Nuts About Ella (Ombar’s dairy-free mylk buttons, paired with blanched hazelnuts and mulberries) and many other delicious (innocent) treats. £4.95 each per box (first one half price) earlybirdsnacks.com
Clearspring Japanese Miso Paste
New trial-size 150g unpasteurised Organic Brown Rice Japanese Miso Paste from Clearspring, a specialist in organic, premium Japanese, European and macrobiotic foods for vegetarians and vegans. £2.89 for 150g clearspring.co.uk
We Are Tea Simplicitea Infuser
Say goodbye to dirty old teabags, and enjoy loose leaf tea with the gorgeous Simplicitea infuser from We Are Tea. The company also boasts an impressive range of artisan teas, ethically sourced from around the world. For teas that taste as good as they look try the pretty Whole Rose Buds or Whole Camomile Flowers. £18 wearetea.com
4-star Hospitality. Stunning Beaches. Daily Yoga Flexible Dates March to October 2016 Sardinia Yoga has served over 1,700 yogi guests since opening in 2010 You can come and go any dates you prefer. Short breaks from £350 Announcing our third venue, new for 2016:
Croatia Yoga at Hotel Mlini near Dubrovnik www.croatiayoga.com
NOW OPEN IN 3 LOCATIONS: Sardinia: 21 May – 30 July and 20 August – 1 October at Grand Hotel in Porto Cervo: www.sardiniayoga.com Majorca: 24 March – 4 June and 24 September – 30 October at Hotel Cala d’Or: www.caladoryoga.com Croatia: 4 June – 16 July at Hotel Mlini: www.croatiayoga.com email@example.com
Higher Prana Power Check out thses delicious recipe ideas to reboot your prana (or life force energy) and power through the day
Raw British Asparagus, Carrot & Chia Salad Method
Serves: 1 Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 0
Ingredients • • • •
1 carrot 4 asparagus spears 4 radishes 2 tsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
• • •
Juice of ½ lemon 2 tsp maple syrup 1 tsp chia seed
Use a vegetable peeler to ribbon the carrots and asparagus spears then cut the radishes into thin slices. 2. Combine the rapeseed oil, lemon juice and maple syrup, season and beat well to combine. 3. Toss the veg in the dressing and sprinkle with chia seeds. Recipe from britishasparagus.com
Persian Jeweled Rice BerryWorld Raspberries, Walnuts and Parsley Serves: 6 Prep time: 40 minutes Cook time: 40 minutes
Ingredients For • • • • • • • • •
the rice 300g basmati rice A generous pinch saffron threads 2 tbsp olive oil 60g unsalted butter 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 cinnamons tick 1 tsp cardamom pods, bruised with the flat knife 1 tsp cumin seeds Salt & freshly ground black pepper
To serve • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped • 225g punnet raspberries • A generous bunch of parsley, chopped • Finely grared zest from 1 orange • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
Put the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Tip into a bowl and cover well with cold water. Set aside to soak for 1 hour. Add the saffron to a small heatproof glass and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then set aside to soak. Add the cranberries to a small heatproof bowl and cover in boiling water, set aside to soak. 2. Once the rice, saffron and cranberries are halfway through their soaking time, add the oil and half the butter to a deep, preferably nonstick, frying pan and set over a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, cinnamon, cardamon and cumin and fry gently for 30 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly caramelised, then turn off the heat. 3. Drain the rice and put it in a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water so it comes a generous 3 centimeters above the rice and set over a medium high heat. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water to cool and drain well. The rice will have started to cook but will still have plenty of bite and the grains will not be fluffy.
4. Stir the cooled rice through the onions in the frying pan, along with the saffron and soaking water, and the cranberries and their soaking water. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stirring well, then dot the surface of the rice with the remaining butter. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make 5-6 holes through the rice all the way to the bottom of the pan - this helps it to steam evenly. Tear off a sheet of baking paper, scrunch it up under running water, shaking off the excess, then lay snugly over the surface of the rice. Cover tightly with a layer of foil and set over a very low heat. Cook, undisturbed, for 40 minutes, after which time the rice will be cooked
and fluffy and a delicious buttery crust will have developed on the bottom. 5. Whilst the rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until golden and smelling nutty. Tip into a bowl and stir through the raspberries, parsley, orange zest and garlic. Set aside. 6. Once the rice is ready, remove and discard the paper. Lightly fork through the walnut, Raspberry and parsley mixture and pile the rice onto a warmed serving dish. Scrape the lovely crunchy caramelised rice bits from the base of the pan and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately. Recipes from berryworld.com
Seedy Squares If we are not on our yoga mats then the next place we can be found is in the kitchen playing around with our high speed blenders and copious amounts of cacao powder! We love to have some healthy sweet treats to eat and to share in our classes and on retreat. Raw vegan goodies can be a bit nut heavy so here is a seed powerhouse
recipe that is so easy. You will need a food processor. The basic recipe is already delicious, but you can make it your own by adding a handful of flame raisins. Or half a teaspoon of cinnamon or ground cardamon. The zest of an orange is a great addition. Happy creating!
Basic Base • ½ cup (125g) sunflower seeds • ½ cup (60g) pumpkin seeds • ¼ cup (40g) hemp seeds • ½ cup (70g) dates • ½ cup (75g) dried figs • ¼ cup (20g) cacao • cup (30g) tahini • cup (25g) melted coconut oil • pinch of himalayan rock salt
Topping • Drizzle with raw chocolate on the top • 2 tablespoons cacao powder • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil • 1 tablespoon maple syrup Recipe from The Retreat Sisters (theretreatsisters.wordpress.com)
Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and whizz up. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times but it will then all start to come together. 2. Press this down into a lined tray and then pop in the freezer, after an hour (if you can wait that long) you can take it out and cut into squares. It’s easier to cut once frozen. 3. You can add your chocolate drizzle either before or after cutting into squares. Stores in the fridge for a week.
Bringing vegan into your life
7 | 8 January 2017 Alexandra Palace, London N22 7AY
Register for your FREE show guide at: veganlifelive.com For further details about the event, or to book your tickets please call 01787 224040 or visit veganlifelive.com
YOGA 4 TEENS
BEAT EXAM STRESS
hy do we do exams? This is not an easy question for me, but I do think they are good for focusing the mind and also learning how to retain information and even learning how to learn. It is also a ‘tapas’, in a classical yoga sense; in other words, to spend time doing something you don’t want to do, to enhance your self-discipline. When I started playing the piano, I didn’t want to practise, but I did and now I can play
a g o y h t i w
a few pieces. There is always something the mind does not want to do, but that eventually it benefits from. As Simon Haas says in his book: “If I didn’t have the discipline to practise the piano, I wouldn’t have the freedom to play it now.” So, discipline leads to freedom, every time. Above all, trust yourself and believe in yourself. You can do it! BETTER BREATHING (designed to be done standing) Focusing breath (analoma viloma): breathe
in for 4 through the left nostril, and out for 8 or 4, through the right nostril and then in 4 right, out 8 left – carry on for as long as it is comfortable (5-10 mins) Breathe in three steps, imagine a ladder. Breathe up each rung, one at a time, pause in between and then breathe out Ujjayi breath as long as you possibly can – try doing this with your eyes closed (Darth Vader sound, like when you close the back of your throat a bit to make a
om family hissing sound). Do this for about 5 minutes or more if you like. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable then stop. STRESS RELIEVERS n Chair posture n Twist in chair n W arrior (make the bend in the knee deep), make sure your shoulders are relaxed INCREASED FOCUS n Dancer pose n Shoulder release: more dancer or clasping hands on lower back and forward bend with Ujjayi breath and lift arms as high as they can go n S houlder rolls n Hip rolls. Hands on hip bones, arch back both ways, n Cat and cow n Side bends with hands above the head, stretch arms above the head, lift the right arm and hand and tip over to the left, hold for a count of 10 and do the other side. Once each side, slowly n F inish with a forward bend, fully relaxed, like a rag doll n Headstand/handstand (optional): to get the blood flowing in the body and towards the brain EYE EXERCISES n Roll the eyes around in the socket slowly one way and then the other way, then focus far away and then close. Rub the hands together until they become warm and then place them over the eyes.
Visualisation for exams
Imagine you are sitting at the desk. You are completely quiet and still. Bring your awareness to the feet. Feel as if they have roots in the ground, growing roots downwards, drawing inspiration from Mother Earth – the inspiration is flowing through you (what does it look like?); with a calm belly, a golden light infuses you with wisdom as you confidently answer fully each question. Imagine the clothes you will be wearing, the table, where you will be sitting, the pen you will use, and how you feel completely confident.
Watch your thoughts
Know that your mind can be your ally or your enemy, depending on you. Which thoughts are you entertaining? We all have thoughts like “I am not good enough”, “I am an imposter”, or “I am just faking it”. But we also have thoughts like “I know this stuff”, “I am intelligent”, “I can do this”, “I have studied hard” and “I can do my best here and now”. Which thought is best to choose? You already know. If you have difficulty with unwanted thoughts, it can sometimes help to have a song or a mantra in your head that brings you back to a positive state of mind – mine used to be from the song ‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor. But nowadays I use an even more positive mantra, ‘Om’. If you just repeat the sound A-O-U-M with each out-breath quietly, it will empty your mind a little, allowing you to refocus. By Charlotta Martinus, a yoga teacher and the founder of Teen Yoga (teenyoga.co.uk)
12 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOUR EXAMS
1. S leep well (follow the steps below) 2. Switch off any screens at least an hour before bed 3. Don’t drink coffee or alcohol or eat sugar after supper (even better, avoid them altogether if you can) 4. H ave a hot bath with lavender or chamomile essential oils before bed 5. Massage yourself slowly with warm (pop it on the radiator) almond oil with lavender drops (failing that, both olive oil and sesame oil from the food shops are fine) 6. H ave a chamomile/limegrass/valerian tea an hour before bed 7. Eat and sleep at regular times (bed around 10pm, up around 6-7am) 8. M ake sure your room is cool and clean with fresh air and your bed is warm and clean 9. R ead something inspiring before bed for a few minutes 10. T ry Ujjayi breath for 10 minutes in the evening 11. Eat well (lots of veg, water, not too much sugar) 12. Try Rhodiola (a herbal supplement, made from the root of roses, which helps with focus and concentration)
Please turn the page for a sequence on dealing with pre-exam stress...
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Feel passionately about the Feel passionately aboutofthe health and well-being health and well-being of children? children? Would you like a job that you Would youaround like a job you can work yourthat family? can work around your family? Would you like to work as part Would you like to work as part of a supportive team? of a supportive team? Club Morgan is one of the most unique Club Morgan is one of the most holistic health programmes forunique holistic health programmes for children running today. It is supported children running today. It is supported by a brand new and cutting-edge by a brand new and cutting-edge seasonal-based curriculum designed seasonal-based curriculum designed by one of the country’s leading trainers by one of the country’s leading in Seasonal Yoga and Tai-chi Suetrainers Woodd in Seasonal Yoga and Tai-chi Sue Woodd and her team of specialists. and her team of specialists. You don’t have to be a Yoga teacher to You don’t have to be a Yoga facilitator. teacher to apply to be a Club Morgan apply to be a Club Morgan facilitator. Full and on-going training Full on-going training and and support is and support is provided. provided. Please get in touch Please touch or visit get ourinwebsite or visit our website if you would just like if would just like toyou know more! to know more! Please call Laura Wills: Please call Laura Wills: Tel: 07909 851992 Tel: 07909 851992 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
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YOGA 4 TEENS
Take 10 minutes out from exam revision to do these simple, refreshing asanas It’s 4 pm, you’ve been revising all day, you’re knackered and yet you’ve two more hours of revision to do if you’re to pass tomorrow’s exam. We know the feeling. Social networking company, the Draugiem Group, found in a 2014 study that the optimal amount of time to focus on a task is 52 minutes; after that concentration diminishes, as do the
returns on your effort. Yoga, meanwhile, has been proven by a 2013 study published in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health to improve concentration. So be smart and take 10 minutes to do these simple asanas that will leave you feeling full of calm purpose.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Variation) (Supta Baddha Konasana)
I once had one student who lay in this position for the whole class. She said it was the most relaxing thing ever. Start supine, one block, mid-height, horizontal beneath the shoulder blades; the other, set vertically, supports your head. Bring the soles of the feet together; knees fall to the sides; hips soften. One hand rests on your stomach and the other over your heart. Eyes closed, sense through your hands the breath’s wave, imagining the word ‘So’ (‘I am’) as you inhale, and ‘Hum’ (‘that’) as you exhale. I am that or, that I am. Enjoy for five minutes.
Reclining Revolved Eagle Pose (Supta Parivrtta Garudasana)
If you’ve been sitting at a desk all day, it’s essential to get some twists in to relieve tension in the back. Twists are refreshing and energising. Supine, bring the knees into the chest. Shift the hips a couple of inches to the right. Cross the right leg over left and tuck the toes. Right arm extends out to the side, palm up. Left arm guides the legs towards the left. Go easy here and place a blanket under the knees if it feels too much in the lower back. Stay here for 10 long breaths, then swap sides.
Pilates and Yoga Retreats
Becoming calmer and more collected isn’t just about restful poses. Lion is great for eliminating residual tension. Kneel, tips of the big toes together. Bring the knees wide. Place the hands on the ground, forearms forwards (this relieves wrists that have been typing all day). Get long in the spine and, slightly arching the back, inhale. Bring the focus of the eyes to the eyebrow centre; stick the tongue out; exhale with a long aspirated ‘ha’ sound, purging all stress, anger and tension from the body. Repeat nine times, letting the ‘ha’ get longer and more victorious each time.
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Chopping Wood (Kashtha Takshanasana)
This is my personal favourite and the yoga equivalent of drinking K Red Bull. Squat, feet at 45 degrees. Lengthen the tailbone; press the little toes floor-wards. Fingers interlaced, knuckles forwards, imagine holding a heavy axe; raise it overhead. Exhaling open-mouthed, utter a strong, vocalised ‘Ha!’ as you bring the axe down. Your eyes follow the action of the axe; the elbows remain straight. Repeat nine times. This asana activates the area between the shoulder blades, which may feel ‘stuck’ after hours of revising; it encourages fulsome breaths and is a brilliant stress reliever. You should finish feeling warm, focused and energised.
Sequence: Zoë PlÔger (pizyoga.com) Model: Eva Meier Photographer: Albin FÔllmi
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Lion Pose (Simhasana)
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om family Concious Parenting
From innocence to adolescence When it comes to managing your relationship with an ever-changing teen, keep your head up and keep your heart strong. By Siri Arti
YOGA 4 TEENS
dolescence. What a trip. Who would have thought that growing up could be such a struggle? The ups and downs of growth, awkwardness, voices breaking, limbs becoming ridiculously long and difficult to bend, include a few of a long list of changes. How does a young person master the art of perpetual coolness, when everything is in flux? Some choose to hide from the world, spending endless days in bed eating cheese toasties. Others miraculously step into the limelight and take on the world. During adolescence, anything can happen, and it is up to us to be the support. The parent of an adolescent was once a parent of a small child. One that chatted endlessly, welcomed cuddles and delighted in making mud pies in the garden. One day, that same parent notices her son’s eyes changing shape and shoulders getting broader or her daughter’s hips widening and her eyes taking on a far away look. Adolescence is an incredibly creative time in a child’s life. Many changes are taking place but also a blossoming of such high vibrational potential. This brain that sometimes forgets how to string a sentence together is in fact evolving and developing into a more advanced version of the child. Choices and options become important, although decisions are harder to make. If the evolving child can hold on, they will eventually move out of the clouds and into the clear blue sky again. Changed. After a period of darkness, there can be a sudden sense of ‘waking up’ from a deep and sometimes troubled sleep. This is a time when the ego is evolving and exploration takes place. ‘Who do I really want to be?’ is asked from somewhere deep within the teenager. A strong desire to be an individual becomes important for some, while for others the need to maintain safety in numbers is protected.
At 15, my daughter went through a crisis where anxiety started to percolate throughout her experiences, touching everything she did, removing any semblance of comfort from her life. She wanted out. She didn’t want to play the game anymore. She didn’t see the point. Then, one night, out of the blue, she called me to say: “Mum, as of this moment, I choose to be a vegetarian. Do you even know how much suffering animals go through? Do you know that plastic is destroying the planet and that we are actually eating it! What is the difference between fate and destiny? How does karma and dharma work?” She didn’t pause for breath. She talked about pain and anger, about spirituality. She talked and she told me that she wants to learn about life. While this child, who had become quiet and withdrawn over the last few months, spoke so passionately, I breathed quietly and I listened, afraid to miss a word. I marvelled at her sudden change in energy, after such a long time, and then I knew I had to keep up. Adolescence is wild and turbulent and as the guardians of our children, we get to tag along for the ride. Our role as parents is to hold the space, create a form for the space, and offer freedom of expression within that space. We hold, and we breathe, while pouring endless buckets of love into the space to keep it sacred. To do the best job you can, keep your head up, and keep your heart strong. Draw your friends close by, look after your family, seek support where needed and maintain a daily practice of yoga, meditation or mindfulness, and above all, trust the process. We are all children of the universe and we are all on the right path. Siri Arti is the creator of Starchild Yoga and runs regular teacher trainings in the UK and overseas. For information visit: starchildyoga.com
YOGA 4 TEENS
Let’s hear it for the kids It’s time to start introducing mind-body techniques to more people at school, says Yo-chi founder Sue Woodd
new company is looking to bring yoga to teenagers, children and other age groups not used to getting down dog on the mat. Yo-chi Unlimited (yo-chi-unlimited.com) has been set up to put mind and body classes on the map for all ages and abilities, not only in yoga studios and health clubs around the country, but in schools and colleges, as well as in hospitals and corporate boardrooms. “I have worked with people of all ages, shapes and sizes,” says health expert and founder, Sue Woodd. “I believe there is an urgent need to put in place health and wellbeing strategies for everyone.” Yo-chi was initially designed for children
in schools to take part in the vibrant and quirky Club Morgan initiative, also created by Woodd. Now, after 10 years of research and three years piloting, the new yoga-based Yo-chi programme is officially launching across the UK. The Yo-chi team run classes for children, teens, the elderly, disabled and working professionals. Founder, Woodd, has worked in the UK, the USA and around the world and is also a lead trainer in Seasonal Yoga and Tai-chi. She was influenced by the ancient Chinese, who invented a system of illness prevention through observing nature, energy and the seasons – recognising the impact of each organ on our emotional wellbeing
and how, by nurturing them, we can achieve emotional stability as well as physical health. She believes that governments and other authorities could save money by giving people the tools for life embedded within the Yo-Chi programme. “Yoga makes economic sense as well as common sense,” she says. “Yoga is beneficial to children as they grow up facing the many challenges of today’s society. We all live with stress, but we do not always know how to deal with it. By working more closely with our body and understanding how our emotions impact on each organ - not just the heart we are able to learn how to heal ourselves. Isn’t it better we learn things like this at school?”
YOGA 4 TEENS
Soul food for theyoung How yoga, mindfulness and meditation are raising the spiritual vibration of the young. By Charlotta Martinus
n TeenYoga courses students often ask: “How come you are so passionate about yoga for young people?” My answer is simple: “When we observe such suffering and we have a solution, why would we not offer it?” After all, as stated in the Yoga Sutras (in Book 2:16, Heyam Duhkham anagatam), the result of yoga is to avoid future suffering. I truly believe and experience on a daily basis the beneficial impact that yoga philosophy, meditation and practice has on my life. I see the same benefits on the lives of the young people I reach out to, both in my own classes and through the 450 students who have taken the TeenYoga course and are now teaching in schools and other facilities all over the world. One of the students of the course had worked as a counsellor for 10 years in
secondary schools before qualifying to work with teens using yoga and mindfulness. She was presented with a group of 20 15-yearold girls who had no intention of joining in with her class. There was one girl who came to sit at the front, arms crossed, clearly very angry, swearing and not engaging with the teacher except to tell her what she thought of the idea of yoga. She was upset, completely disengaged and unwilling. However, after the yoga class, which included several aspects of yoga, including breathing, postures and philosophy, they finished with a relaxation
“The door is open for yoga, in all its glory, to set the samskaras of our future leaders and carers.”
sequence, after which she looked at the teacher, astonished, and said: “What on earth was that?” She had managed to completely let go in savasana to a degree that even surprised her. Now, she nods at the teacher in town, much to her surprise, and even smiles. Yoga is magical.
The concept of spirituality is something that is hard to define and sometimes a sticky topic to introduce, especially in schools. However, I have found young people generally are hungry for the topic. I think the mindfulness movement in schools has opened up thinking towards exercising our minds to focus and be aware of sensations and feelings. It has also left some needing more guidance with an experienced and qualified teacher who can apply therapeutic exercises that suit their particular needs. I
feel very moved and touched when I hear my students use the term ‘soul food’ in relation to their yoga classes. It’s true: yoga feeds the soul. On the TeenYoga course, the main objective is to equip the graduates with as much knowledge as possible to be able to judge what exactly the young person in front of them might need in order to be optimally well. Using all the tools that yoga offers, we have a complete toolkit (or maybe even medicine bag) to help with most problems and issues. The TeenYoga Foundation is the charity connected to TeenYoga. It promotes yoga for young people through research and the annual conference, Instill, in London. Sir Anthony Seldon is the patron of the charity. Earlier this year, he mentioned on the popular radio show Desert Island Discs that “the still and receptive mind is the ultimate goal for us all.” He continues in true yogic fashion:
“the more one moves into a place of inner awareness, the less one gets blown about. When lows roll on, I don’t feel the same sense of abandonment and loneliness.” He has been instrumental in bringing a non-secular spirituality into education in the UK and was knighted by the Queen for his contributions in this field. So, the door is open for yoga, in all its glory, to set the samskaras of our future leaders and carers – habits of self care, compassion, contentment and awareness. What we teach our young people will shape the future of our world. Why would we not share yoga? Charlotta Martinus is the founder of TeenYoga (teenyoga.co.uk) and will be teaching two workshops at the British Wheel of Yoga London Festival, July 2-3 (bwylondonfestival.com)
Photos: ÂŠ George Karbus / Suunto
om actions The women finding grace and harmony in the deep blue sea. By Josh Gale
oga teacher Kate Middleton and model Tomoka Fukuda are two of a growing number of women fusing yoga and freediving into one blissful, stress-free lifestyle. When Middleton first opened her freediving school on a tiny island in Indonesia, about 90% of the course attendees were men. No longer. Eight years later, 25% are women and the number is growing. “Freediving offers beauty, gracefulness and harmony – all qualities women are naturally attracted to,” the 27-year-old Canadian/New Zealander says. “It also makes you feel badass and sexy.” Once known only for its competitive side – where athletes dive as deep as they can and hold their breath for minutes at a time – freediving has become more mainstream. Freediving schools like Middleton’s are popping up in sun-spoiled locations around the world, from Bali to the Bahamas, from Egypt to Mexico. Freediving, says Middleton, is breath-hold diving, which can be anything from shallow snorkelling, to diving down anywhere from one to 20 metres below the surface through to the recordbreaking depths and freediving competition success she has enjoyed. Middleton is an 11-time New Zealand record holder and this year she won a silver medal at the AIDA Individual Depth World Championships. She began her exploration of the underwater world as a scuba diver, eventually becoming an instructor. But ultimately it didn’t satisfy her longing for a close connection with the ocean. While traveling the world, she visited Gili Trawangan, a tiny two by three kilometre island 35 km east of Bali. She expected to stay a few weeks, but fell in love with the tropical setting, the exotic culture, freediving – and her business partner and boyfriend, fellow freediver and 13-time British record holder Mike Board. Eight years later they’re still there, running their retreat centre, an organic café and a yoga and freediving school. Like many freedivers, yoga is part of Middleton’s daily life. She says the two activities have more in common than people realise. Both change lives and even more so when paired. “Freediving can be as healing and transformational as yoga and meditation,” she says. “Both are tools that teach us to observe and return to the simplicity of the here and now, the fact there’s just one breath in this moment and you can always come back to it when you’re stressed. It’s amazing to witness how they both completely transform people’s lives.”
Japanese freediver and model Tomoka Fukuda’s life was transformed when she moved to Japan’s southern-most island and tried freediving. Prior to moving there from Hokkaido, she worked as model and talent manager. She’s the first to admit it: her life was a
“Freediving can be as healing and transformational as yoga and meditation. Both are tools that teach us to observe and return to the simplicity of the here and now, the fact there’s just one breath in this moment.” 107
little bit crazy – lots of parties, a hectic lifestyle and stress. “I wanted everything to be perfect,” she says. “I was a perfectionist. That was why I had so much stress.” Then she found freediving. She describes why she loves it. “Harmony,” she says, “between my body, my mind and the ocean. When I dive in the ocean, I am diving into myself. I can see inside myself clearly. When I have a good dive, I feel that I am a small part of this world where everything is connected.” Like Middleton, Fukuda practises yoga and meditation regularly. Many freedivers do because yoga helps the body to stay flexible and strong and meditation keeps the mind relaxed. “My body has to move gracefully, fluidly, like a fish, when I dive to ensure efficiency of movement,” she says. “Yoga supports this.” Fukuda has made rapid progress since she first began freediving eight years ago. During the 2012 Suunto Vertical Blue freediving competition in Dean’s Blue Hole, she dived to 80 metres, realising a long held goal. Just recently, she dived to 90 metres and aims to reach 100 metres this year. She can hold her breath for nearly seven minutes.
For both Fukuda and Middleton, however, elite competition is only one aspect of freediving. Both have had some of their most amazing underwater experiences in as little as 10 or 20 metres of water while just playing around. Diving with dolphins and hearing them talk to one another, gliding with whale sharks and mantas, exploring coral reefs and experiencing a euphoric inner joy are all unforgettable experiences they have had. “Everyone thinks they can’t hold their breath, but even with only a little bit of training you can learn to hold your breath for two to three minutes,” Fukuda says. “Actually, two minutes is easy.” Middleton agrees, but says numbers aren’t everything. “What I always recommend in the beginning is to drop any expectations of how long you should hold your breath or how deep you can go and instead go by what feels good,” she says. “You want to feel connected, to feel harmony and grace – and they are not defined by how deep you can go or how long you can hold your breath.” Both freedivers also use Suunto diving watches to help them track how long they’ve been underwater, the depth they’ve reached and how long they’ve been on the surface so they know when it’s safe to dive again.
Aside from the sense of gracefulness and harmony, Middleton says there’s another reason why she enjoys freediving. “There’s a sensuality to freediving,” she says. “It feels incredibly sensual to move through the water, to flow with it gracefully. And you feel badass because you go beyond what you initially believe is possible so you realise how amazing and strong you really are.”
WIN A SUUNTO DIVING WATCH WORTH £425! We’re giving away one of the beautiful freediving watches like the ones used by Kate Middleton and Tomoka Fukuda. The Suunto D41 watch (worth £425) is lightweight and packed with handy features like freedive mode and optional wireless air integration. It’s got everything you need – wherever your diving may take you. TO WIN: Simply visit ommagazine.com/suunto and answer this simple question: Entries close 12th May 2016. How long can Tomoka Fukuda hold her breath for? a) Nearly six minutes b) Nearly seven minutes c) Nearly eight minutes
Enter the competition at ommagazine.com/suunto 109
Life & loves of a yoga teacher Name: Age: Location: Training: Specialism:
OM writer Lesley Dawn quizzes yoga teachers up and down the country to reveal their life and loves
Nicola Bourke 42 Community centres & studios in North Berwick and locations throughout East Lothian, Scotland BWY 2010 - Yogacampus, London Hatha yoga
Describe yourself as a colour Oh, yellow definitely. Yellow is bright and cheerful and reflects the mood I try to maintain – naturally upbeat and happy. Best part of the day This has to be the time I allocate to myself on my yoga mat. It actually can be different times of the day – I grab space when I can.
Favourite book The last book I read was by Dawn French – According to Yes. I picked it up in the library. I think libraries are essential places for the community offering local information, educational and social activities. Secret escape We’re lucky in being situated close to the coast so my escape is a walk along the beach. Generally, I love spaces to enjoy nature so it could be woodland, moor, forest or beach. Someone who has inspired you My father who died at the age of 61 with motor neurone disease. I’m not sure I could have been as brave as he was in bearing his illness. It was a shock to the family when he was diagnosed. It made me feel it was important to accomplish what I want with my life and made yoga teaching even more of a focus for me.
Favourite meal I love home cooking, much of which is inspired by my fiancé, Nigel. I am Irish and so love any recipe that has potato as an ingredient – potatoes and vegetables. Thrills and spills The seven months Nigel and I spent travelling through some 14 countries. We gave up our jobs, rented our house out and experienced India, Tibet, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Borneo (see right), Australia, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. It was a thrilling adventure. Favourite film I’m not much of a film-goer but I will admit to loving any adaptation of Jane Eyre – romanticism with predictable outcomes – I love it. I probably only go to the cinema about six times a year.
Cannot live without My fiancé. We are learning Spanish together intending to pursue our love of travelling – this time to South America.
Teacher zone A deeper understanding of yoga... for teachers, by teachers
New yoga instructors especially (in fact, everyone, really) need to keep their karma in the face of life’s challenges. Gina Battye shows you how to do it
here you are. In full flow, observing your class really feel the benefits of the practice. You notice every single person in the room change their energy as a result of their time on the mat. It was a fantastic class – there is no doubt about it. You were on top form, you enjoyed it and they enjoyed it. You feel energised and on a high. As you are packing up, you are approached by a class member who asks you for a moment of your time. Maybe they talk about their ailments in detail to you, or let you know about a life event that is going to prevent them from coming to class for a little while. You notice when you leave that you feel drained. Those feelings of energy, excitement and happiness seem to have disappeared. And you are not sure why or how to pick yourself back up. We all experience this at different times, not only as a yoga teacher but also as a student of life. There may be certain people that really pull you down or situations that suck the life out of you.
Here are some simple techniques that will protect your energy, ground you and raise your vibration. RAISE YOUR AWARENESS. Know what your triggers are: the situations, people and circumstances that leave you feeling your energy has been drained. Recognise what feels good to you in the moment and what doesn’t feel so good. Once you have this awareness, you can put strategies in place to minimise the impact it has on you. CALM THE MIND. This is essential if you want to live a calm and peaceful life. One way to do this is through meditation. In meditation get a sense of your own energy - surrounding you and within you. Tune into it. Imagine a beam of white light entering your body at your crown chakra. Visualise this light filling up your entire body, right to your finger tips and toe tips. This white light fuses with your energy as you breathe it in.
Teacher zone Visualise your energy emanating from within you, and on your out breath, imagine your energy spreading out from you and filling your aura. Breathe in more white light. This time on the out breath, imagine that your energy is filling the room. Then imagine it outpouring into your whole home. See the energy spreading even further, up and out into the sky, reaching up to the clouds, the faintly twinkling stars and the light source high in the sky above. Sit in quiet, contemplative meditation until you feel drawn to end your meditation practice. When you are ready, draw your energy back into you. On each in breath, visualise your energy slowly retreating back down from the sky, into your home, into the room you are in, into your aura and back into your body. Draw your energy right back inside you and feel all the white light that fused with it, cleansing your body, mind and spirit. When you find yourself in a situation that is or has drained your energy, close your eyes and visualise this white light, circling around within you. Notice it sits within you, not outside you. PROTECT YOURSELF. Before you leave your meditation practice, imagine you have a cloak. Feel yourself wrapping it around your shoulders, Harry Potter style if you like. Feel the softness of the material as it shrouds you – a cloak of protection. Ask your guides, the universe, your inner guidance or your loving energy to hold you close, to protect you and those you love as you step into your day. Remember you are not alone and you can ask for help and support at any time. This loving force is waiting to assist you in your daily life. STATE YOUR INTENTIONS. For your day and for what you want to experience in your life. Visualise what you want to allow into your life and experience for that day. State to yourself your intentions, for example ‘I intend to only invite in loving, nourishing and happy energy and experiences.’ You can restate your intentions and call out for protection at any point. BARE FEET. Take your shoes and socks off. Imagine you have tree roots growing from the heels of your feet deep down into the ground. Feel the intense pull from these roots, anchoring you to the earth beneath you. Then imagine at the ball of your feet that tree roots are grabbing you from beneath and pulling you back down to the ground. They firmly wrap around the top of your feet and ankles and tug you down. This will earth and ground you. In the moment of the interaction that you are in, be sure to experience the situation. Be present and listen intently. Hold off with judgments, expressing opinions or being drawn into drama. THINK BACK INTO YOUR HEELS. This will subtly take your weight back into your heels, instead of the balls of the feet. As a result, you will straighten your posture and your lungs will open more which will allow you to breathe more easily. It will draw your energy field back further from the person, give you a little more space and you will
“Know what your triggers are: the situations, people and circumstances that leave you feeling your energy has been drained. Recognise what feels good to you in the moment and what doesn’t feel so good.”
notice you won’t feel the need to jump in to the conversation. You will feel calm and open to listen. STAY IN YOUR POWER. Imagine your power is within you (like the white light and your energy) and allow it to fill your aura. Keep your power within your auric field. When your power seeps out of you and it crosses in the middle with someone else’s, that is when disagreements and frustrations occur. Hold it close to you. Consider the other person too. Are you taking away the other person’s power by ‘rescuing’ them in some way? Leave it in the middle. When talking to someone, imagine you have an invisible white line painted on the ground in front of you. When you say something, imagine you are placing it on the white line for the other person to consider, and if they choose to, they can take it in to their experience. You also have the choice to leave it in the middle or to take the comment into you and your experience. When you imagine your interactions in this way, you are more able to consider whether you are going to take it or leave it in the middle. It creates a quiet space where you can pause and think through the conversation, without jumping in feet first. SAY NO. To anything that doesn’t feel right or seem like a good fit for you. If it doesn’t serve you, say no and leave it behind. Afterwards, check in with your thoughts. Your thoughts create your experience. They affect how you feel, who you are, how you behave and what your experience is of the world. You are responsible for you. You are in control of you, your thoughts and how you feel. No one else can take this control and inner power away from you, unless you let them. Choose to think and feel the higher frequencies of love, happiness, inspiration, joy, appreciation and freedom. Hold the intention that you are choosing a high vibration emotion, despite external influences. When you hold these higher vibrational feelings, you will experience more of what you want. RELEASE. Anything that doesn’t serve you after the conversation. Say to yourself what you want to let go of. Imagine you are blowing up a balloon and on the out breath blow into the balloon all the negative thoughts, feelings and experiences associated with it. Tie the balloon off and secure a piece of string around it. When you are ready, let go of the balloon and blow it up and away into the sky. Watch it drift further and further away from you. Feel the difference within you as you visualise it drifting away. CHANGE YOUR SCENERY. Step outdoors and into nature. Experience the elements. Hear the beautiful calls of the birds, the crickets hiding in the grass, the rustle of the leaves in the wind and the creak of the trees as they grow. This will restore your body, mind and spirit. Above all, come from a place of love. Send healing and loving vibes to the person both during and after the conversation. They came to you for support because they trust and value you. Learn to protect yourself, manage your energy and stay in your power in these situations to live a calm and peaceful life. Gina Battye is renowned for her work as a spiritual coach and is a best-selling author. She asks you the questions you daren’t ask yourself so you can flourish into your authentic and true self. Connect with her in the safe and private community on Facebook: Authentic Self UK group.
Teacher zone Teacher’s Tales:
Injury time Injuries are good teachers for teachers. By Paula Hines The injured ones… they’re the best teachers. These were the words of Sarah Litton, a brilliant yoga therapist I saw for a few sessions in 2012 to help me with my back condition. I wish I had been able to see Sarah for more sessions at the time, but the sessions we did have really set me up well for working with my injury to the point that I still use what I learned from her today in my own practice and teaching. At the time I did not fully understand Sarah’s words – maybe this was something she was saying to help me feel better, I wondered. However, now I get it. Injuries can teach you patience and teach you a lot about yourself. And they can be great teachers when you teach yoga. Back in 2011 I learned that I have Spondylolisthesis (an anterior vertebral slip in my lumbar spine). It was the subject of my first column for OM. My initial feeling on receiving the news was that this threw a huge question mark over whether I would be able to teach at all. I was feeling all ‘woe is me’ because this was not what I wanted or something I saw coming. I’d gone to my GP about sciatic pain and ended up finding out I had a back condition I’d only heard of because
it came up during my anatomy studies on yoga teacher training (and I could barely pronounce it!). Now I feel this was one of the best things that could have happened to me at the start of my yoga teaching journey. Five years on, I am still grateful for my Spondy. It does not define me, but I feel it has given me a greater ability to empathise with students working with injuries and in particular it has enabled me to assist other yoga practitioners with Spondy and other back conditions too. Mine flared up considerably last year, which has resulted in more lessons (and yoga and physio) along the way, which I feel grateful to be able to incorporate into my regular practice and teaching. If you do find yourself working with an injury can you see it as a gift? This can certainly be easier said than done, but if you are able to do that then the possibilities for learning are immense.
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)
books Yoga Mama Linda Sparrowe Shambhala $21.95 Pregnancy can throw any woman a curve ball. Yoga Mama is the practitioner’s companion, a book with practical advice, step-by-step sequences, pranayama and meditation techniques, grounded in both ancient wisdom and contemporary knowledge. The book covers each trimester, labour, birth, and the postpartum years. Photographed sequences include modifications and offer suggestions to accommodate a growing belly.
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Further reading: Real Yoga
Vimla Lalvani Clink Street £14.99 With full colour illustrations, this book takes readers through warm-ups, relaxation, visualisations and meditation and then into two distinct courses. The first introduces readers to a number of basic asana (such as warrior, cobra, camel), while the second course moves in and out of various postures. There’s also a quick fix section for common ailments (such as arthritis, insomnia, depression).
#HigherSelfie: Wake Up Your Life. Free Your Soul. Find Your Tribe Lucy Sheridan & Jo Westwood Hay House £10.99
A rallying cry for 20-somethings and beyond waking up to the ‘now’ age. A no-nonsense approach and full of pop culture inspired humour, this book is written for millennial trendsetters looking for something deeper and more meaningful in life than social media chatter.
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Yoga is for every body Your pictures. Your community Lily Bramma Mount Dodd in Cumbria
Crow in the snow: Lisa Hutson
Sandy toes: Katie Don in Padstow, Cornwall.
Human art: Kelly Flynn, yoga and body paint
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Alcarine Power in Doolin, Ireland
Ancient discipline: Italo in Cairo, Egypt
What’SUP: Cheyenne Ravarino
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Awe-inspiring retreats and ideas for yoga explorers
Off the beaten track
For most folks looking for a yoga escape, you can’t beat a week in Ibiza, or even a trip to Cornwall. For real adventurers, maybe it could be a month off in Bali. Fancy something different? How about Mongolia? UK-based yoga teacher Emma Henry recently led a group of strangers on a Reclaim Your Self (reclaimyourself.co.uk) retreat into the remote Gobi Desert. It’s believed to be the first yoga retreat of its kind. “It had never been done before,” says Henry. “Suddenly, there we were, a group of strangers in the middle of nowhere, practicing yoga.” Travelling into the desert, surrounded by a different culture and an unknown language, the group weren’t quite sure what they were going to find. “But we knew we were all seeking something. Being amongst true nomads you understand how simplicity can bring so much happiness.”
Photos: Richard Pilnick (richardpilnick.com) Courtesy of lululemon
A nomadic yoga adventure in Mongolia
The spa where it’s summer all year long Oh we do like to be by the seaside…in the Peak District. Soaking up the sun at Staffordshire’s Mill Wheel Spa You never really need an excuse to visit the Peak District, one of England’s most beautiful, unspoilt natural regions. If you’re looking to spoil someone special (or just take care of number one!) then a visit to the Mill Wheel Spa is a must. Located right on the edge of the Peak District national park, and close to the historic town of Leek, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend pampering escape. It’s true, you won’t find much yoga here, but your body will love you for it, nonetheless. The spa is located within The Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa, a cosy hotel that boasts fine dining, elegant bedrooms and private hot tubs. There are stunning views over the Roaches, a prominent rocky ridge above Leek, plus a patio area for soaking up the surrounding countryside. Even better is that it’s still a family-run business so you’re in the hands of people who really care. But it’s the Mill Wheel Spa that really sets this place apart. A visit here is worth it for the unique Beach Hut experience alone, which replicates the benefits of laying on a beach in the sun. Enter via a colourful traditional beach hut (obviously) and step onto a bed of warm sand for a 25 minute session which takes you from darkness to sunrise to peak sunshine and then to sunset. Relaxing music and essential oils complete the ‘holiday’ experience. It’s the perfect way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and top up Vitamin D levels to beat the winter blues. Plus it’s a whole lot of fun. In fact, you’ve got to love the irony of this country. As an island nation, wherever you are on mainland Britain, you’re never too far from the sea - but this part of the country is about as far as it gets (Lichfield, Staffs, to the south, has a plaque indicating England’s furthest point from the coast, a distance of 84 miles, apparently). Here at the Mill
Wheel Spa, if you can’t get to the beach, then bring the beach to you! If you can drag yourself away from the ‘beach’, there are plenty of other spa goodies to enjoy including plunge pool, rasul, relaxation suite, therapy lounge, sauna and stone bath, plus an extensive list of treatments. You’ll walk out feeling invigorated and looking years younger. Find out more at: 3shoesinn.co.uk
Gimme shelter OM editor Martin D. Clark catches up with the nomadic The Green Shelters retreats for a yoga, wellness and nutrition getaway in the French Alps
he Green Shelters offers itinerant and personalised detox retreats in a host of plush locations around Europe and beyond. Wherever you are - there are retreats in Morocco, Ibiza, Portugal, Thailand and in the French Alps throughout the year you can be assured of five-star luxury and a total mind-body reset. Although themed differently (from hiking to healthy cooking), all are wellness retreats designed to help you slow down, detox, and leave feeling replenished and inspired. Yoga and meditation form a central part of all the programmes. What’s unique about it all is the bespoke nature of the retreats. It’s a concept put together by Juan Arance, a Spaniard originally from Madrid, who gave up his job in the high fashion world of Paris to give something more nurturing back to people. To do this, he has assembled a dream team of naturopaths, massage therapists, yoga teachers and expert chefs not only to indulge your every whim whilst you’re on holiday, but also to impart valuable health and wellness knowledge that you can take away with you. All groups are small so you’ll get direct
feedback on your yoga, your diet and lifestyle, including a detailed printed dossier to take home with you. And, if you’ve signed up for a retreat that includes cookery lessons, you’ll even learn how to make a mean veggie supper out of simple, healthful ingredients that you’ve probably got lying around the kitchen anyway.
I headed off to the French Alps for The Green Retreats experience that included cooking and nutrition, plus twice daily yoga. The objective was a gentle detox and relaxation, but with the option of heading off to the slopes at the nearby Les Saisies ski resort there was also the chance to be more active (I wasn’t!). The journey up to the luxurious mountain lodge is an adventure in itself. Driving up the narrow mountain roads in the dark, with the snow coming down, and creeping around endless, tight hairpin bends, is a good test for your yogic breathing skills. And the crisp Alpine air when you first arrive is certainly invigorating. Stepping into the luxury log cabin, bedecked with traditional furnishings but with a sharp, modern twist, I think I acclimatised immediately. Sitting by the woodburner, we were greeted by the friendly
team and handed a delicious green juice before being shown our rooms. This is a luxury retreat, so the surroundings are spotless. The rooms were all varied, but typically Alpine themed, but with a quirky streak too, such as the occasional ‘sheep’ or ‘goat’ furniture around the place. The view from my room was nothing short of remarkable…Mont Blanc in the distance, among other mountain peaks, literally framed by the window. And the attention to detail is flawless, which is largely down to the efforts of the host himself. Arance is both charming and calming in equal measure, and will be with you for your whole stay, making sure that you have everything you need.
It’s an intimate and supportive environment, and seamless, which is impressive given the various disciplines at work here. The twice daily yoga sessions provided structure to the day, while the massage and bodywork sessions were blissful and therapeutic. The yoga was accessible, with options for all abilities, and varied throughout the retreat, but included a deeper, more meaningful component too.
om travel As well as some physical morning workouts, there was also plenty of time for introspection and meditation. Significantly, one of the aims (according to our yoga instructor for the week, Harmony Hannigan) was to awaken a level of spiritual awareness as a means to continue further exploration back home. It was an idea that resonated with me and, arguably, one that offers the best hope for continued momentum and personal growth, both on the mat and in life generally, long after the holiday is over. The sessions with the naturopath (Aurélie Portuese during this retreat) were another highlight. The detox therapies are designed by experienced naturopaths, so you’ll get a cleanse that’s tailored just for your body, based on a private consultation. My own dossier on how to take forward the health lessons I’d picked up during the retreat became essential reading on my return home. In the kitchen, I especially enjoyed our cookery class, where we worked together under the eye of a trained chef from Paris (Julie Baravant) to prepare that evening’s meal. Actually, it’s pretty inspirational just watching a Parisienne chef at work, it’s all so effortless.
A design for life
It was all a big learning curve, not just in improving my rather modest culinary skills, but in learning so much about myself, with clear ways to boost and maintain my own health and vitality. I’d say this is a great place to come if you want to pick up valuable life lessons on healthy living and wellbeing, whether that’s knowing your way around the kitchen, upping your game on the yoga on the mat, or just generally understanding your own body. Of course, the fluffy rugs, roaring fires, outdoor hot tub with striking Alpine views are pretty appealing too. Although, of course, the landscape is very different if you pick one of the other retreat options. What is the same is that it’s a truly nurturing space where you get to be pampered as you learn (sounds like the polar opposite of my school days!). In fact, the best compliment I can give The Green Shelters is that of all the places I have visited, perhaps none impart such valuable personalised information that will be useful long-term, and long after the retreat has ended. As well as the picture postcard iPhone snaps of the mountains for Instagram, that’s an incredible thing to take home with you.
WHERE TO FIND THE GREEN SHELTERS IN 2016 Because The Green Shelters team operate on a roaming basis - the retreats can pop up all over the world - you need to stay alert to where they’ll be next. So check the website for updates. I like to think of it like that old TV show, The A Team: “If you have a problem... if no one else can help... and if you can find them... maybe you can hire... The Green Shelters.” Trust me, it’s definitely worth it. RETREATS: June 25 - 29 Yoga, Relax & Cooking Algarve, Portugal
SINGLE DAY WORKSHOPS: Healthy Snacks, Paris (May 21) Raw Food, Paris (June 18)
July 30 - August 6 Yoga, Detox & Trekking French Alps October 1 - 4 Yoga, Cooking & Juicing Algarve, Portugal
Inspirational yoga in the Grand Canyon, one of the true natural wonders of the world. By Chelsea Deweese
aura Fallon isn’t scared to get some dirt under her toenails. While inspiring others to be creative in their practice, she guides yoga-focused trips through world-class rapids in Arizona’s Grand Canyon and some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet. Students use sand and sleeping pads instead of mats, bask in the canyon’s quiet, and stretch in locations ranging from waterfalls to hilltops. Fallon’s hope? Students learn from her trips that yoga can be practised anytime, and in any place. She’s always had something of a split life, working as a river guide in the Grand Canyon during summers and a yoga instructor during winters. And so she decided she wanted to do both simultaneously, instead of feeling like she had two separate careers and passions. She proposed a Wellness Trip to management at Arizona Raft Adventures (AzRA), where she guides. The first yoga-specific trip took place back in 2011 and she’s been guiding them ever since. “People are increasingly interested in trying yoga or doing yoga when on the river,” she tells OM. “Early on, when asked what I did during the off season, I would say ‘yoga instructor’ and passengers would say ‘great’ and move on. Now, passengers get excited and ask if we can do sessions daily. Practising also keeps me healthy as a guide, so instructing on the river means I do more yoga and my body is happier for it.”
“One trip started with only a few folks interested in the yoga on offer but, by the fifth night, everyone was at it, practising together daily.” 123
Moments to remember
Yoga in such a special place has resulted in literally thousands of amazing moments. Some highlights she cites include a group session in a large, deep cavern with monsoon waterfalls overhead and wind whipping outside the quiet of the indoor space. Then there was a meditation on the top of ‘The Tabernacle’, one of her favourite hikes that includes a 360-degree view of the surrounding canyon. And she’s enjoying seeing people respond to the yoga. One trip started with only a few folks interested in the yoga on offer but, by the fifth night, everyone was at it, practising together daily. Fallon teaches yoga that is fun and practical, working and stretching muscles people tend to use on the river while hiking and boating. “I use the environment as much as I can, from taking a few minutes at the beginning or end of a session to encourage people to be still and listen and take in where they are, to doing handstands against canyon walls, to using rocks as props to help in balancing postures.”
The raw natural beauty of the Grand Canyon is a long way off where it all began though for this yoga adventurer. She was first inspired to teach when the New York Times Magazine ran an article about how yoga was sweeping through New York City, where she used to live. So she started attending Bikram Yoga NYC weekly which led to work-study, so she could take classes more regularly. The teachers there approached her in 2002 about teacher training and she’s not looked looked back since. “I started yoga reluctantly, at a friend’s suggestion, feeling it was something for ‘those’ kind of people - calm, zen, relaxed. Not me. I was more interested in long-distance running and bicycling. However, at age 28, I realised my options were limited for treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, which I was diagnosed with at 21. I didn’t want to take drugs. Yoga changed my outlook and allows me to manage any symptoms. There are so many other benefits that I can’t even list them.” It’s a journey that has taken her to one of the most gloriously beautiful places on earth, somewhere she can spread the yoga message further. In addition to building her Grand Canyon river yoga trips, she hopes to keep finding ways to bring yoga and awareness of healthy living to more people, including developing and expanding her Body Balancing Yoga classes and workshops and videos. And there are plans for more adventures too. “In 2017, I’ll also be offering a yoga trip on the Salmon River in Idaho. I hope to add more river and adventure destinations, including at base camp at Mount Everest and at retreats in New Zealand.”
Learn more about Laura Fallon and her Grand Canyon yoga trips at: laurafallonyoga.com
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soundtrack of yoga If music be the food of love (and yoga), then play on, by Victoria Jackson
hat does yoga sound like? I would once have said it was the sound of silence. Perhaps sometimes a soft footfall or the whisper of breath in and out. This is usually how my home practice is. Gentle sighs on my more yin days, or the stronger susurration of ujjayi on the yang days. That might sound very pure, ascetic even, but actually it’s just because I have such limited powers of concentration that music can only seem a distraction. Yet when I go to vinyasa class there’s always music. And I used to find this a real challenge. It was so different to what I was used to. Then one day after class I heard a conversation in the changing room about whether music was a good thing or not. One girl was definitely the purist type and said that she would have enjoyed the class more if it had been silent, that someone else’s music taste couldn’t match to her own, and that having a loud soundtrack was too distracting. And just too modern. And I suddenly found myself speaking up strongly in favour of music. Sure, it might not be traditional, but is a modern twist so bad if it helps us to experience yoga? In our culture there’s so often a soundtrack, from elevator music to ringtones. Background noise is the way we live, so for many people silence is intimidating rather than supportive. And often music can help cultivate a certain mood. It can bring a class together and create a shared experience. During standing sequences upbeat music lifts the energy of the room, helping people stay in a rhythm and measure their breath; in seated postures slower music creates a calmness and steadiness. The right music can enhance the experience of savasana, bringing a sense of completion to the practice, allowing mind and body to let go and sink into welcome stillness. Yes, I really did come out with all this in the changing room. So it turns out – a surprise to me too – that I can practice with music after all, and that I like it. I don’t know if I convinced the girl getting dressed, but I certainly convinced myself. I realised that music can help, rather than hinder, my concentration – if only I let it. If I’m really enjoying a track, the music seems to flow through my body and lift me up (and any help I can get in upward bow pose is worth having!). And the tracks that I’m not so keen on? Well, there’s always my ujjayi breath to focus on again. With a healthy dose of good yogic non-judgement and acceptance of what is!
Victoria Jackson will forever be a beginner yogini
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