JAN/FEB 2016 - £4.25
a “Get Glowing” Retreat in Ibiza with Lemon Detox
TIPS FOR LIVING IN THE MOMENT
GUIDE get happy and healthy in 2016... with yoga
Home delivery food your easy way to 5-a-day
• • • •
The art of sitting – perfect your seated posture Crunch time – simple super foods Yoga A-Z – Q is for Quiet Nutrition zone – the healing power of herbs
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OM Magazine Issue 58, Jan/Feb 2016 Published by:
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The Publisher accepts no responsibility in respect of advertisements appearing in the magazine and the opinions expressed in editorial material or otherwise do not neccessarily represent the views of the Publisher. The Publisher cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the later appearance or non publication of any advertisement. Information about products and services featured within the editorial content does not imply an endorsement by OM Magazine. OM Magazine is not intended to replace the professional medical care, advice, diagnosis or treatment of a doctor, qualified therapist, nutritionist or dietician. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme. Every effort is made to ensure that all advertising is derived from reputable sources. OM Magazine cannot, however, accept responsibility for transactions between readers and advertisers.
It’s the start of a big new year and we’re ready to go here at OM HQ, making plans and looking to bring you even more great content in the months ahead. Make sure you keep us in the loop whatever you’re up to - send in your photos, story ideas, tell us your dreams - we want to know it all. If you’re embarking on teacher training, tell us about it. If you’re new to this yoga thing, let us know how you’re finding it. Remember: this is your monthly magazine for all things yoga so don’t be a stranger. As a matter of fact, there are more chances to meet the OM team this year as we’ll be sponsoring no less than three OM Yoga Shows up and down the country. The first ever show in Glasgow takes place in April (23), followed by Manchester in May (20-22), and then the London show in October (21-23). It would be great to see you there. So, let’s start making 2016 special. This could well be your best year yet. Set an intention (we’ve got lots on that in this issue) and start to move forward. We can help. In your hands right now is a monthly yoga buddy who’s rooting for you, to help you on your way and begin that exciting journey. If it’s motivation you want then look no further than OM. Inside this issue, we’ve got a yoga starter guide for anyone looking to get going on the mat and experience that incredible transformational path that is yoga. Remember, it’s not just about doing yoga, it’s about living yoga. Once you step on the mat, new things open up on many levels. It’s quite a ride. You’ll also find lots of practical yoga to keep your practice fresh and alive, plus a few new things as well, including a dedicated teacher zone where we’ll be adding articles specifically tailored for trained instructors. That doesn’t mean we’re giving up on the newbies - OM will always be inclusive and accessible for all. To illustrate the point, we’re also launching a new regular slot on yoga in the real world, so you can get your yoga fix wherever you are, anytime of day. Have a fab month, folks, and have the most amazing of years. Go make it happen.
OM in 30 seconds “You might think succeeding would lead to feeling happier, but it works the other way round. Studies show positivity and a happier outlook will increase your chances of success.” Don’t worry, be happy (Page 22) “Feeling lethargic? Sitting too long? Use this 15 minute sequence to get you moving with a quick shot of yoga energy.” Afternoon Espresso (Page 32) “Real yoga begins when you step off the mat, and I couldn’t agree more. But can we bring it into the most stressful part of the day for many of us – our daily commute?” A Calm Commute (Page 78)
Contributors Amanda Harvey
Amanda is a passionate Vinyasa Flow and Pregnancy Yoga teacher who shares her practice with the aim of inspiring and encouraging others to nourish themselves, find a sense of balance and live their yoga both on and off the mat. Born in Canada, she moved to London over 10 years ago to work with some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK. Outside of her yoga practice, Amanda works for a National Charity and volunteers with WYSE International, a youth leadership development charity. Visit: yogawithamanda.co.uk
Charlotte Watts is an experienced 500RYT yoga teacher and also an award-winning nutritional therapist. She specialises in addressing stress-related issues through yoga and nutrition with a mindful approach, laid out in her book The De-Stress Effect. She wrote the De-stress yoga off the mat article on page 82 in this issue. Visit: charlottewattshealth.com
This month’s Competition & subscription Win a “Get Glowing” Retreat in Ibiza with Lemon Detox See page 72
Subscription Subscribe today to OM Magazine and receive Positivitea’s brand new limited edition blend Three Chi Chai – Cocoa, Chilli & Ginseng with Cinnamon!* See page 30
Plus many more inside…
A dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher from London, Paula writes our 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 at: ucanyoga.co.uk
Regular contributors: Siri Arti; Conscious Parenting Lesley Dawn; Life And Loves Paula Hines; Teacher’s Tales Jill Lawson; Meditation Of The Month Meg Jackson; Real Life Yoga Deb Mac; What’s Your Affirmation Sarah Swindlehurst; Yoga Therapy Victoria Jackson; OM Lite Julia White; Yoga & Aromatherapy Charlotte Watts; De-stress: Yoga Off The Mat COVER: Abi Mills photographed for the cover of OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine issue 58 by Luke Ayling (woodslodgestudios.co.uk)
WORDS OF WIDSOM
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw
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Course Director: Anne-Marie Newland +44 (0) 7730 680 221 www.sun-power-yoga.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
At last! Anne-Marieâ€™s new book Sun Power Yoga SHALA available from Amazon 8 Dec 2015
January & February 2016 OM Regulars
54 Faces of Yoga:
My Secret Place
Yoga Changed My Life
Sort Your Life Out
What’s Your Affirmation
Yoga & Aromatherapy: Ylang Ylang
62 7 Great Reasons To Start Practicing Yoga
What We Really Look Like On The Mat
57 Man On The Mat:
Folded, Bound ’N’ Twisted Pose
58 Yoga Starter Guide:
Get Happy & Healthy In 2016
20 OM Loves:
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
66 My Daily Yoga Challenge:
Fashion: Bamboo You
68 From Go To Slow:
Change Your Life Stories
Your Photos. Your Community
OM Body 32
Yoga At Home: Afternoon Espresso
OM Meets…Abi Mills
40 The Art Of Sitting:
Perfect Seated Posture
46 Yoga Ski Lift: A Pre Ski Yoga Sequence 50
Yoga Therapy: Glandular Fever
Yoga A-Z: Q Is For Quiet
Change Your Life
124 Giveaways 130 OM Lite: Copycat Yoga
The Power Of Intention 30 Days Of Yoga
116 Yoga Is For Every Body:
A Home Practice
Beautiful Things For Beautiful People
103 OM Books: Great Yoga Reads
OM Yoga Starter Guide
74 Cover Story
Who Am I: Meditation Of The Month
76 Live For Today:
& Tips For Living In The Moment
Real Life Yoga: A Calm Commute
De-Stress: Finding Space
OM Spirit 84 Let The Ceremony Commence: Working With Ritual And Intention
OM Home Delivery Food 88 Think Outside The Box: Rediscovering Good Food
Just Juicing: A Great Way To Your 5-A-Day
Do It Yourself: Mindful Eating and Cooking
Eat Drink Yoga: Healthy Eating Goodies
Crunch Time: Real Food Snack Attacks
100 Nutrition Zone:
Get Ready For Rejuvenation
OM Family 104 The Art Of Relaxation For Children 106 Yoga Girls Can:
Free Yoga For Young Women
OM Teacher Zone 108 Life & Loves Of A Yoga Teacher 110 Understanding The Yamas: A Contemporary Interpretation
114 Teacherâ€™s Tales: Opportunity Knocks
OM Actions 116 Yoga Is For Every Body:
Your Pictures, Your Community
OM Travel 118 OM Travel News: Awe Inspiring Retreats & Ideas For Yoga Explorers
120 Samujana Style: Luxury Yoga Destination In Koh Samui
122 Bay Of Plenty: Two Beautiful Bays, Two Amazing Wellbeing Retreats
My secret place Location Crantock Beach, Newquay, Cornwall Yogi Tanya Beresford Photo Jeb Beresford The photo shows yogini Tanya Beresford enjoying some yoga amid the stunning natural environment around Cornwall’s Crantock Beach, a place she calls the ‘best shala ever’. She says: “To paraphrase my teacher, Doug Swenson: ‘no roof, no windows, no rules’… practicing yoga on the beach just feeds the soul. The tang of the fresh salty air, beautiful golden sand and the warmth of the sun make every breath a prana-filled pleasure.” Yoga back at its roots, in nature.
Love OM magazine and want to tell the world? Here’s your chance Less really is more
Your ‘Less is More’ section in December really resonated with me. I started yoga for the mental health benefits, and found it such a great, embodied practice. But over time I found many studios focused on a more fast-paced, fitness-based practice, all about doing the deepest, strongest version of an asana. My ego was constantly being challenged by wanting to keep up with this, and my practice began to feel inauthentic to me. Just before reading last month’s issue, I slipped a disc in my lower spine and am facing a long recovery journey. Reading your ‘Less is More’ articles reminded me why I started yoga, and what made me fall in love with it. It isn’t doing headstands or arm balances, it’s feeling totally at one with myself, and dropping into the finer rhythms of my body. Rather than feeling daunted and frustrated about getting back on the mat, I have a renewed excitement about returning to an authentic, gentle practice. Thank you for dedicating some page space to promoting a softer practice. Hayley, by email
Yay!! Just picked up the December issue of OM magazine, it’s got a great free magazine on the business of teaching yoga which I’m very excited about chellefelt Relaxing by the pool with my new #omyogamagazine. Perfect start to my StayCation in Jersey! @RosalieEsilva
Loved your feature on spiritual jewellery in the December issue. I found it very interesting to read some of the stories of the people behind the products - and what beautiful products they were! I think the idea was to provide inspiration for Christmas gifts but I got a bit carried away and bought Spiritual jewellery something wonderful for myself instead. Now I carry my mantra with me (on my locket) wherever I go. Jenny B, by email
om spiritual jewellery
om spiritual jewellery
Beautiful, healing things to raise your
mantra - you take one step closer that’s a heart-shaped mala or a hand-stamped change makers When you wear your intention - whether In this issue we profile some of the you to live the life you want to live. of to manifesting your dreams, inspiring a heartfelt message and raising awareness designers and creatives bringing back in the world of yogic jewellery making, precious metals, crystals and gemstones the ancient healing properties of
What you said about us on social media
OM magazine has really changed my life for the better! I first encountered it when a friend bought a copy to read on a train journey and lent it to me. I found it so interesting, packed full of fascinating articles - I read it cover to cover. In fact, I enjoyed the magazine so much I took out a subscription myself. This led to me reading about an ayurvedic course at the Snowdonia Mountain Lodge which my friend and I subsequently booked ourselves onto. We both absolutely loved the course and, after a weekend of yoga, meditation and some wonderful ayurvedic food, we felt great. I am now starting to adopt some of those ayurvedic principles to my life - including a regular yoga practice. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years, most of this was in a weekly class. I only occasionally did a bit of yoga at home. However, since the inspiration of your magazine and the brilliant course, my practice has become a daily habit and I’m really starting to feel the benefits. When I’ve finished each magazine I pass the copy around the yoga class I attend and everyone there loves it just as much as me. So thanks OM - you’re inspiring so many people. June Morris, King’s Lynn
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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 Early Bird extended to 31st January London • starting October 2016 – July 2017 London Pilates Myofascial Movement Anatomy • October 2016 – August 2017 EARLY BIRD DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE
For booking details please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Call +44 (0)7778 403578
YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE
Former ballerina Paolla Grecco says yoga has brought more balance and a healthier emotional approach to her life Why did you start yoga
NAME: Paolla Grecco AGE: 40 OCCUPATION: Freelance writer and yogini YOGA YEARS: Since 1999 (with a committed practice for the last four years)
It all started because of a date with a Californian surfer from the office, a first date actually. It was summer of 1999, he took me to an early morning community class in Santa Monica. I had no idea what yoga was, but he thought that since I used to be a ballerina it should be fine. Two hours later and drenched in sweat I ‘d had my first encounter with Bikram Yoga.
How has yoga changed your life
Back in my early twenties I recognised that holding yoga positions really helped strengthen the discipline I already had over the physical body given my ballet training. It was only later I learned about its significance from an emotional level. At first the change started in 2007 when I fell off a cliff in Devon, hanging off the edge’s wall by my backpack with a few small rocks below my feet for support. I went numb when my cell phone died, just before I could direct the lost helicopters circling around. Then a voice in my head commanded ‘breathe deeply like in yoga class’; memories of breathing slowly during challenging poses swept the shock away long enough for rescue services to find me. Later, in 2011, I would reconnect with yoga in a big way. At the time I almost used my City bonus to get a lunchtime tummy tuck. Call it fate, that week a new contractor joined the marketing team – a yoga teacher, slim and strong. Her Vinyasa classes were full of energy and fun. Since then I haven’t stopped. During the first couple of years I was a three-day-a-week yogi. After that I discovered 40-days of meditation with Kundalini yoga, leading to a great emotional cleanse, the publication of a book, teaching free meditation workshops and adopting a daily practice.
Favourite yoga haunts
Two places in London. Inner Temple Gardens (EC4Y), behind Paper building no.5, sheltered by the sundial’s garden surrounding a mulberry tree. And King Henry’s Walk garden (N1), over the lawn by the entrance under the crabapple tree.
Best yoga moment
First times are my favourite yoga moments: the first sweat and stretch under the Bikram heat; the brain/body teasers of Kundalini with Guru Singh at Robertson Blvd; the first one-legged chaturanga at Vinyasa with Mercerdes Ngoh; a playful handstand at Acro Yoga with Jaqui and Jesse; a gently balanced headstand during a power Vinyasa retreat with Rali under the Bulgarian blue skies; the first meditation high after a Kundalini satsang with Sivaroshan at Sadhaka...and every day’s first hour when I am present enough to walk outdoors, look at the dawning sky over the garden, hear the birds sing and fire my body to start another daily meditation.
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t u o e f i l r u o Sort y Follow your dreams and chart your yoga progress with these inspirational diaries and year planners
Yoga & Meditation Fitness Diary
It’s your life, so run it your way. Personalised diaries and journals for the keen yogini or fitness fanatic, ideal for tracking your progress. Personalise your cover designs, choose your preferred format and create a date range suited for your needs. Reach all of those yoga goals this year! £11.95 toaddiaries.co.uk
The Strong Happy You 2016 Diary
This inspirational dairy comes from OM writer and ITV presenter Lucy Kite. It’s the perfect tool to set you on the right track for the most incredible year ever. A whole week to view, 12 pages for your monthly missions plus yoga postures and quotes to make you strong and happy. £14.99 lucykite.co.uk
Stick To Stigu Planner 2016
Plan hard, play hard, rest hard. Stick to Stigu 2016 is many things in one cover: planner, calendar, notebook, to-do pad and rest and zest handbook. Full of yoga, meditations and musings, it’s also a whole lot of fun. £12.77 sticktostigu.com
What’s your affirmation? A nurturing affirmation for self love and self care. By Deb Mac “I am my own best friend. I love myself and therefore I have the time, patience and reserves to best love others” If you’re not being a best friend to yourself then how can you be a best friend to another? Yes, it’s great to have people in our lives, and we all need connection - we thrive better when we connect with others - but the one person we need to be present for, more than any other in the whole wide world, is ourself. Maybe you’re too giving and you’re running on empty? Maybe you feel that people expect too much of you? Remember, we teach the world how to treat us - if we can’t be our own best friend then we’re not going to be able to truly be present for another either. How can we connect with another unless we are connected and present to our self? Always, and in all ways, treat yourself with love, care, kindness appreciation and respect; show the world how you deserve and expect to be treated. Support yourself and you’ll always feel supported. Life loves you. So make sure that you’re loving you. Show up for yourself every day. Nurture and nourish your relationship with your self every day. Self care is where it’s at. Be your own best friend forever.
BWY accredited school Yoga Alliance UK registered school Yoga Alliance US registered school
Teacher training, yoga immersions and continuing professional development Yin and Yang Yoga Teacher Training and Study Immersion Koh Samui, Thailand, 7 February–6 March 2016 BWY-accredited 2-year course commences in the UK on 22 April 2016
Faculty includes: Simon Low, Gill Lloyd, Gary Carter, Sue Delf, Julie Gudmestad, Eija Tervonen
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simon low Workshops, immersions, yoga holidays and retreats in the UK, Spain, Turkey and Thailand 3–10 January Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand 11–17 January Jungleyoga, Khao Sok Lake, Thailand
By Deb Mac (contentedlittlesoles.com)
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Introducing the latest surfer chic mats from California... made from recycled wetsuits
oga fans love a bit of creativity, innovation and flair. Throw in a strong environmental message and a cool Californian surf vibe and you’re onto a winner. Süga (sugamats.com) is a new range of premium yoga mats made from recycled wetsuits and inspired by the California dream. The company, which is currently fundraising via kickstarter, says it “represents the fusion of yoga, the ocean, and sustainability - three concerns close to the hearts of many yogis”. The world’s first yoga mat made from recycled wetsuits – as far as we know, Süga is the first company in the world to recycle wetsuits at all – it boasts a sleek design, with a high spec performance. Because the mats are manufactured from neoprene, they’re uniquely closedcell foam, which means they don’t sponge up bacteria, sweat, dust, and dirt from yoga studio floors unlike some other mats. The mats also maintain their grip whether dry or wet. It’s a great idea. Just don’t try and use them as surfboards.
om beginnings Ylang Ylang (cananga odorata)
Yoga & Aromatherapy:
It’s a new year; time to shake off the excesses and embrace all that is coming your way in 2016. Ylang ylang essential oil, Cananga odorata, is the perfect oil to help cleanse yourself, your home or your yoga studio and refresh yourself for the times ahead. Place 10 drops of ylang ylang in 8oz of water in a misting bottle, shake well and use to spray the room and refresh your space. Set your intention for the new year and then place a couple of drops of ylang ylang in an oil burner or diffuser and meditate on those intentions. Ylang ylang is known as the flower of flowers and helps to calm and relax the nervous system. As we move into February we celebrate Valentine’s Day and, again, ylang ylang oil is the essential oil to use as it works with the heart chakra and really connects with the heart centre. Mix 10 drops of the oil with 10 drops of geranium oil and 5 drops of grapefruit oil for a relaxing romantic bath. For a Valentine’s Day massage oil, place three drops of ylang ylang and three drops of sandalwood oil to a carrier oil, massage into the skin and enjoy. February also sees us move into the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar. Again, ylang ylang oil perfectly captures the essence of the monkey; someone who loves life and helps those around him/her feel good. Use this beautiful oil to welcome in the new year.
By Julia White (beautifulmindbeautifulbody.co.uk)
Bliss Teacher Training Academy The only 200 hour Yoga Alliance UK Accredited teacher training in the West Midlands with Michelle Nicklin & Ambra Vallo “First day of yoga teacher training at Bliss Yoga in Aldridge. What a lovely day! Wonderful teacher, great bunch of students and lots of yoga stuff - really is Bliss!” Jane
Studios in Aldridge, Walsall and Sutton Coldfield. INVEST TODAY - BOOK ONLINE: Discover Teacher Training Event Saturday Feb 6th 2016 1.30-4pm The Chakra System Explored Autumn 2016 8 hours CPD Yoga Business Success - Make the Life You Want! Summer 2016 8 hours CPD Yoga Alliance UK CDP Approved
Amazing spaces Stylish and inspiring studio design ideas and interiors Bliss YogaSpa, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada blissyogaspa.com Discover Canada’s vibrant yoga scene at Edmonton’s Bliss YogaSpa. It’s a place to retreat from the world for a few hours, or a whole day, where you can enjoy pretty much any yoga style in gorgeous surroundings. Classes are held in two spacious and energising studios, designed to promote maximum health and wellness. Feel the benefits of negative ions (they help you absorb oxygen and feel more energised) as they permeate the studios through the Moodspace wall during a heated or non-heated class. During a hot yoga class, you’ll be heated comfortably by the American clay walls and the infrared heat panels on the ceiling. Suitable for all ability levels. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing moment in the yoga lounge and locker rooms, both of which are supplied with amenities and retail products. And then there’s the spa space. Check in here for total mind-body enrichment, the best spa experience in town.
Beautiful things for beautiful people
Sun Power Yoga Shala Book - £29.99
The new book from Sun Power Yoga creator Anne-Marie Newland. Beautifully illustrated, 600-plus pages and packed with inspiration and insight from one of the UK’s top instructors. Includes yoga theory, inspiration, exercises, meditations and personal musings. Signed copies available direct from Sun Power Yoga. Also available from Amazon. sun-power-yoga.co.uk
Naked Protein Popcorn £3.99
This popcorn is made with premium grade whey protein isolate, organic popcorn, organic coconut oil and stevia extract for the ultimate high spec movie night protein snack. theproteinworks.com
Just Chill Drinks $26 (pack of 12)
A calming beverage to brings focus and clarity, perfect before or after yoga. Lightly carbonated and packed with vitamins, minerals and active ingredient L-Theanine, a unique amino acid found in green tea which improves performance by reducing stress and enhancing focus. drinkjustchill.com
How to be Happy (Or At Least Less Sad) - £8.99
An inspiring and creative companion for anyone struggling with depression, by artist and author Lee Crutchley. Practical tips and activities to find your way out of sadness and live with more intention when you’re feeling caught up in the whirlwind of work, family and daily responsibilities. eburypublishing.co.uk
Bella Beluga Yoga Pants - £49-£55
Pure, highest quality active wear developed ethically, now available in the UK. Scandinavian minimalism, Danish design based on years of yoga experience and practice, and Italian finest yarns of fabric. bellabeluga.co.uk
Buttafly Seat - £16.99–£32.99
Transform your posture. Made from durable and recyclable foam, the Buttafly is extremely light-weight and compact enough to be carried anywhere. Enthusiastically and extensively trialled by physiotherapists, osteopaths, yogis and meditation practitioners. Designed by British Wheel of Yoga teacher and chartered physiotherapist Louise James. buttaflyseat.com
Angelicus Serratus Body Oil £32.00
Escape the Valentine’s rush this year and create your own romantic retreat with VOYA’s luxurious Angelicus Serratus Body Oil Available at spas and stores nationwide and online. voya.ie
How To Be A Yoga Rockstar - £12.99
The ultimate yoga careers bible, written by OM magazine editor Martin D. Clark. Includes thousands of inspiring yoga business tips, plus dozens of case studies and advice from leading teachers around the world including Kathryn Budig, Tara Stiles and Ana Forrest. Also on Amazon. The ultimate guide to making a living teaching yoga. ommagazine.com/shop
Don’t worry, be happy Four reasons to look on the bright side this year. By Dr Sally Norton More likely to succeed
You might think that succeeding would lead you to feeling happier, but in actual fact, it works the other way round. Studies show that positivity and a happier outlook will increase your chances of success. For example, did you know that three quarters of our success at work is linked to our optimism and how well we manage and deal with stress, rather than our IQ?
Improved heart health
According to a new study from the University of Illinois, having a positive outlook could provide you with better heart health. The study found that those people who were most optimistic, were twice as likely to be in ideal cardiovascular health, compared with their pessimistic counterparts, with significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Not only this, but optimists were also more likely to be physically active and have healthier BMIs.
Better chances of ditching the junk food
Struggling to lose that last half a stone? One of the reasons diets ultimately fail is that we usually start them in a negative frame of mind
– because we feel bad about the way we look or feel. What’s more, for the majority of us who have been on repeated diets, it’s difficult not to feel this latest diet will end the same way as all the others. A negative frame of mind, science shows, means we are less likely to succeed - so develop that positive frame of mind before you start your endeavours.
More likely to stick with your fitness goals
Thinking about fitness in a negative way will make you more likely to bail at the first opportunity. Studies show that a positive frame of mind helps people to stick with their fitness regimes as well as their healthy eating goals. Once you get exercising, that positivity is helped even more by the endorphins or feel-good hormones that exercise releases. If you find the thought of heading to the gym leaves you feeling miserable (I don’t blame you!), then ditch the gym. Try finding different ways to keep fit - swimming or brisk walks in the fresh air. When you’ve found an activity that you really enjoy, positive feelings will make you more likely to stick with it for the long-haul.
Dr Sally Norton is a leading UK health expert and founder of Vavista Life (vavistalife.com)
SUGARS ZERO Provamelâ€™s organic zero sugars plant-based alternatives to yogurt and chilled drinks are perfect to kick-off the new year in a healthy and refreshing way! All products are organic, vegan and unsweetened, apart from the soya calcium drink that is lightly sweetened with a touch of apple concentrate. Rich in high-quality plant protein, bursting with flavour and low in sugars! Discover more on our products and go to www.provamel.com
Soft, natural, eco-friendly bamboo clothing for yoga, fitness, pleasure and leisure, enjoy the luxurious and elegant feel of the new No Balls collection
Halter Back Tank: ÂŁ33 Gathered Pants: ÂŁ52 noballs.co.uk
Venue: Wellbeing Warehouse, Newmarket Photographer: Robert Massam (robertmassam.co.uk) Models: Paula Alhberg, Louise Keiller, Corah Olsen
om beginnings Sports Tank: £33 Harem Pants: £59 noballs.co.uk
Hooded Top: £39 noballs.co.uk
Jumpsuit: £59 noballs.co.uk
om beginnings Halter Back Tank: £33 Slimline Yoga Pants: £49 noballs.co.uk
Side Gather Tunic: £37 Bamboo Leggings: £39 noballs.co.uk
Flow Top: £35 Slimline Yoga Pants: £49 noballs.co.uk
Batwing Top: £39 Bamboo Leggings: £39 noballs.co.uk
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Planet yoga Stories from around the weird and wonderful world of yoga
USA UK USA
A new robot has been created that will tell stories to your kids at bedtime and then teach you yoga. US firm UBTech is currently raising finance to develop the machine it calls Alpha 2, which it hopes will be in homes this year. The ‘bot is small, about 17 inches, but it’s very cute and very capable, a bit like a smartphone only capable of moving around. In the demo video, Alpha 2 can be seen teaching yoga thanks to his full range of movement. Yay, now we all get our own personal yoga instructor!
A new line of yoga pants is nothing new these days, but Tush Ups have a little secret inside them. These eco-friendly exercise pants from the USA include built-in undergarments and removable pads for an extra boost in all the right places, providing an easy lift for your butt (even if you’re something of a stranger to the gym). They look great, there’s no doubt…and who would know? Or you could just go about getting that toned butt the usual way and get down to the yoga studio every week.
Mindfulness not maths
Hundreds of primary school children in Berkshire have had meditation introduced into their timetables alongside regular subjects like literacy and numeracy. The ‘mindfulness’ teaching aims to help them manage their own behaviour and anxieties, and to improve concentration. The children sit together, eyes closed and with shoes off, to enjoy a bit of quiet time together, as teachers guide them through the meditation. It’s all a far cry from the noisy school canteens at lunchtime.
om beginnings Get out of jail
Pass your yoga exam, get out of prison three months early: that’s what offenders are being told at one pioneering detention centre in India. First launched at last year’s inaugural UN International Yoga Day – an initiative championed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the yoga classes are understandably proving very popular with inmates. If prisoners inside the Yerwada Jail in Pune wanted motivation for an early release, then yoga is it. Sure enough, some have already progressed to instructor level.
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More than 100 women in matching yellow tank tops gathered in China recently to do a spot of yoga 600 feet up on a suspended glass bridge. The session, filmed by a camera drone, took place on the see-through bridge in Hunan Province’s Shiniuzhai National Geological Park. The elevated yoga class was aimed at promoting a healthy and harmonious lifestyle. Yoga is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity in China, especially in the country’s big, busy cities.
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Afternoon Espresso Feeling lethargic? Sitting too long? This 15 minute sequence has been designed to get you moving with a quick shot of yoga energy
YOGA @ HOME
Start off with a few rounds of Surya Namaskara A & B (Sun Salutation A & B) to connect with your breath. Feel free to rest in child pose between any of the postures.
Knee to nose
Flowing through your Surya Namaskara B, as you inhale from downward facing dog reach your right leg up high. Keep your pelvis neutral as you extend through the ball of your right foot. As you exhale round your spine and draw your knee in to touch your nose. You can lightly step your foot forward from here or hold the pose for a few breaths to engage your abdominals further.
Revolved Crescent Lunge
Draw your hands together into prayer at your heart centre and tilt your pelvis forwards as you extend through the crown of your head. Twist to your right, hooking your left elbow or triceps to the outside of your right knee. Work towards drawing your hands towards the centre of your chest as you press the heel of your right hand down into the left. Take your gaze over your right elbow. Keep extending through the crown of your head finding length on your inhalations and depth on the exhalations. After five breaths inhale to come back to centre and lower your hands back down to your mat, draw your knee in to touch your nose once again and step back to downward facing dog. Repeat pose 1, 2 & 3 on the other side.
As you inhale reach your arms up into Crescent Lunge. Lift from your heart centre as you take your gaze up reaching through your fingertips. Take care to keep your shoulders softly drawn down and stay strong in your legs, maintaining a steady foundation. To enhance, explore your back bend further. To modify, lower your back knee down to the mat, and possibly interlace your fingers to the top of your right knee to provide additional stability. Stay here for five breaths.
Once again inhale your right leg up, but this time bend your right knee and stack your hips so that your right hip is above your left, and you extend through your right side body. As you exhale lower your right foot down to the mat into Wild Thing. Work towards straightening your left leg and finding a 90 degree bend into your right knee with the soles of both feet flat on the mat. Reach through your right fingertips and press the mat away with your left hand as you lift your hips and your heart centre. After five breaths, flip back into a 3 legged dog and exhale to draw your knee in to touch your nose once again.
om body 5
As you inhale step your right foot forward between your hands and pivot your back heel down, reaching your arms up into warrior 1. As you exhale interlace your fingers behind your back and extend through your arms as you work towards straightening your arms closing the gap between your hands. Take a full breath in, drawing your right hip back and lifting your heart, as you exhale fold forwards to the inside of your right knee into Humble Warrior. Reach your arms up and over and relax your neck. Keep strong in your legs. After five breaths, rise up to warrior 1 on your inhalation, and exhale to lower your hands back down to the mat, stepping back to downward facing dog and repeating on your left.
From Vasistasana lower your left forearm down to the mat, followed by your right forearm. Check that your forearms are parallel to each other and that your elbows are not slipping apart. You are working to create a straight line with your body as you engage your abdominals, your quadriceps and shoulders. If your hips are dipping and you feel overly strained lower your knees to the mat - you will still be able to work strongly from here building strength and engaging your core. After five breaths lift back up into downward facing dog and repeat Vasistasana and Forearm Plank on the left.
From downward facing dog, place your right hand slightly forward of your left and roll over onto the outside edge of your right foot, extending your left arm up. Take your gaze up as you reach up through your fingertips, lifting your heart centre and keeping your breath steady and even. To enhance further catch hold of your left big toe with the first two fingers of your right hand and extend your left leg up. To modify, bend your left knee placing the sole of your left foot flat on the mat as you push through your left foot to assist in lifting your hips.
Dolphin / Pincha Mayurasana
After practicing Forearm Plank on your left walk your feet in towards your hands pressing your elbows down, and engaging your abdominals. Keep drawing your shoulders away from your ears broadening across your upper back. Either remain here for five breaths, with your head below your heart and building strength or lift up into Pincha Mayurasana for five breaths. Take childâ€™s pose.
YOGA @ HOME
om body 9a
Bridge may be taken as an alternative posture here. Come to lying on your back and bend your knees taking your feet hip distance apart and drawing your heels in towards your sitting bones. Reach your arms over head with your fingers pointing towards you and your hands flat on the mat next to your ears. As you inhale push through your hands to lift yourself up. Keep pressing through your hands and stay strong in your legs. After five breaths, lower down on your exhale. Keep your spine neutral for a few breaths before drawing your knees in and rocking up to take a forward fold.
Courtesy of StudioLiveTV Photo: Claire Berghorst, Just Love Yoga For full-length classes with Claire Berghorst, catch her online at: studiolivetv.com/justloveyoga
Extend your legs out in front of you, engaging the top of your thighs. As you inhale reach your arms up as you sit up tall finding length in your spine. As you exhale allow your pelvis to tilt forwards as you reach forward from your heart centre coming into your final forward fold. Take modifications here, by placing a block beneath your sitting bones, and/or bending your knees. Remain here for several breaths before taking rest in Savasana.
YOGA @ HOME
Photos: Luke Ayling (woodslodgestudios.co.uk)
om body Yoga can transform your life in every possible way, but make sure you keep it light, says UK-based Ashtanga teacher Abi Mills When did you start yoga I started yoga about seven years ago…in my lunch hour in the city with my mum. It was a little piece of stillness during a chaotic day at the office – and I only went originally to keep my mum company. But after just one class I was hooked. I quickly discovered the benefits of yoga not just physically but mentally too. I would go back to the office much calmer and ready to take on the rest of the day. What inspired you back then I was lucky to have an incredibly inspiring teacher in my very first class. He was so passionate about what he was teaching; he didn’t just support his students on the mat, he was a great listener off the mat. This is what really inspired me: It made me realise that yoga wasn’t just a sport or something I did to get ‘bendy’ – this was a way of life. I could see that being a yoga teacher could really make a difference to people’s lives. Tell us about the style you teach I’m an Ashtanga yoga teacher. I teach the first and second series. I also focus a lot on restorative yoga, and yoga as a way of relieving and managing pain. Just recently, I taught chair yoga and breathing techniques to my mum’s cancer support group. It was a real honour to teach such strong and inspirational women. Whoever I teach, and whatever pace or level the class, I always bring some humour. The biggest tip I can offer to any yoga teacher is to keep it light. Yoga doesn’t have to be serious, it should be fun. I teach my students to let go of their inhibitions and not worry whether they can perfect their downward dog, or they wobble in tree pose - it’s really no big deal. Laughter is the best way to let go of tension and stress. Make it fun and your students will want to come back.
“I teach my students to let go of their inhibitions and not worry whether they can perfect their downward dog.” 37
â€œI hope to inspire, encourage and help my students in every way I can, teaching workshops across the globe.â€?
om body Any favourite yoga moments There are so many. Making my Yoga for Seniors DVD with my mum is definitely one of my favourite yoga memories - practicing daily with my mum who at the time had just recovered from cancer showed me the real healing power of yoga. The most memorable maybe (because it’s perhaps the most recent) was teaching my ‘Be fearless and fly’ arm balance workshop at the OM Yoga Show last October in London; being surrounded by yoga fanatics, so keen to learn and take in anything ‘yoga’. I spoke about letting go of fear on and off the mat, and they really took this on board in the workshop. Lots of them achieved an arm balance for the very first time – they were all beaming with pride in savasana. How do you fit yoga and teaching around your life I’ll be honest…not always easily! I have two little girls (aged four and five) that need a lot of my attention. Inbetween the school run and teaching there’s the housework, the shopping, the cooking. Once that’s done I answer my emails and keep my social media accounts up to date. My days off consist of photo shoots and writing articles. As chaotic as that sounds my life is fab and I’m very
lucky to be able to be a mother and do the job I love. I get up about 5am most mornings and roll out my mat; such a peaceful time – the children are still asleep, my mind is calm and clear and my yoga practice wakes my body up ready for another chaotic day. Some days it’s a full hour practice, other days maybe just 15 minutes. What’s important is that I roll out my mat and do something. What are your ambitions going forward I want to bring a greater awareness to the benefits of yoga for everyone. I tell my students it’s never too late to start, you’re never too old, too unfit or too stiff to start doing yoga. I hope to inspire, encourage and help my students in every way I can, teaching workshops across the globe. How has the yoga world changed since you first started The yoga world is continuously changing, it’s become fashionable to go to a yoga class. I think that Instagram has a large part to play in the increase of keen new yogis rolling out their brightly coloured mats. Although the ‘yoga selfie’ posted on social media is a hot topic for debate, I think that it’s fantastic so many people are trying yoga for the first
time. I believe everyone needs a bit of yoga in their lives. There is also an increase in the number of men coming to yoga. I think guys are becoming aware of how yoga can not only give them the edge in other sports but can also protect them from injury. Yoga is finally being given the respect it deserves. Any messages for new students just starting out To anyone who has just started yoga, firstly well done! Starting is the hardest part. Trying something new and coming out of your comfort zone isn’t easy for everyone. When you’re in the class, try and focus on your own journey and don’t worry if the person next to you is in the ‘perfect’ headstand. Listen to your body and work within your own capabilities. Be consistent with your practice and you will see the changes. I’m not saying it’s easy, and you are bound to feel a whole array of different emotions throughout your practice – you may even start questioning your diet, and even your relationships. Yoga has this way of making us take a good look at ourselves from the inside out, this is all part of your new exciting journey.
Find out more about Abi Mills at: abimillsyoga.com
Perfect seated posture. By Louise James
om body A time for self-inquiry
All the research tells us that yoga, pranayama and meditation can significantly improve our wellbeing, reducing stress and enhancing our physical and emotional health. And while many of us enjoy the more physical practices of yoga, the simple act of sitting quietly with awareness can in itself reap immeasurable benefits. That moment when we come into stillness on our mat (or a chair… but more about that later) is a perfect time for us to fully “land” in our seat and engage with a greater sense of what it means for us to be right here, right now. This period of sitting is a key part of the ritual of yoga, an opportunity for us to connect with our commitment to the practice and begin the process of “checking in” with ourselves. Of course to begin with we may find that we are rather preoccupied by the world around us or an overactive mind wandering off on a course of its own but with regular practice we can master these distractions and welcome this time as a wonderful chance to calm our nerves and feel better about ourselves and the world around us. An important tool to help draw our attention inwards and to develop our understanding of the connection between the physical and emotional is to focus on our posture. The reverence given to this word may make one wonder if perhaps it has a capital “P”, for as soon as it is spoken the majority sit up sharply, overly straightening their back and straining to sit to attention, military style. However if we can interrupt this automatic response and observe our posture without first changing it, we can learn a great deal about where we hold tension, where feels contracted and tight, where feels open and
spacious. And as we remain present with this curiosity we invite a gentle unfolding as we let go of unnecessary tension, maybe widening and lengthening a little and succumbing to a yawn as the nervous system shifts from a bias of stress to relaxation. This is a fundamental part of the greater process of yoga whereby these subtle adjustments bring about a letting go and surrender to the unknown.
To support the stillness required for such self-inquiry, we need to establish a position that in the words of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is both sthira and sukha meaning steady and comfortable. A good posture exhibiting the curves of the spine in their natural alignment (sitting up straight is a misnomer!) so that the head is balanced over the pelvis will ease the way for us to get the most out of our sitting experience. Our lungs will be able to expand fully supporting the breath, the circulation of blood will flow unimpeded, the cerebro-spinal fluid can pulse freely, bathing and nourishing the brain and spinal cord, and our prana can flow with ease through the sushumna nadi, the central river of energy coursing through our core. A basic understanding of anatomy can help us to understand the intricacies of good posture. SPINE In simple terms the spine has three curves designed to spread the load of the opposing vertical forces affecting the body – the downward effect of gravity and the upward ground reaction force which is created every time our foot strikes the floor: n backward facing curve called a lordosis in the neck (cervical) region n f orward facing curve known as a kyphosis in the middle back (thoracic) area
n b ackward-facing curve again in the low back (lumbar) area. SACRUM At the base of the spine is the sacrum – a large triangular bone that is also jointed with the left and right pelvic bones at the large sacroiliac joints. The sacrum then supports the spine and the pelvic bones support the sacrum - the sacrum is the link between the spine and pelvis. The shape of the sacrum and the way in which it articulates with the pelvic bones means that in the neutral position it is angled forwards. The upper surface also slopes forwards contributing to the lumbar curve. Sit bones At the bottom of the large and irregularly shaped pelvic bones are two prominences known as the sit bones – think of them like vey compact rockers. They are designed for sitting on. PELVIS There is very little movement at the sacroiliac joints (many argue none) and any alteration in the position of the pelvic bones will result in a change in the angle of the sacrum and the shape of the lumbar curve. The pelvis is sometimes referred to as the pelvic bowl, and imagining this bowl as filled with water can help to get our heads around the next bit. If the pelvis is rotated anteriorly (tilted forwards) spilling water over the front edge, the angle of the sacrum and the lumbar lordosis increases; conversely when the pelvis is rotated posteriorly (tilted backwards) spilling water over the back edge, the sacrum moves more vertically and the lumbar lordosis flattens out. Pelvic tilting (rocking) in this way is the same movement we performed when practicing cat and dog tilt in four-point kneeling.
Compare the angle of the sacrum and the relationship between the trunk and the thighs, demonstrating hip angle
om body Do you live life on the edge?
Despite the challenge of Gomukhasana and one knee sitting high, the lumbar curve although slightly flattened is still present
Many yogis use a rectangular block for sitting on and position themselves on the front edge, often without knowing exactly why but aware that it helps them to sit up properly. Actually what they are doing is finding the front portion of the sit-bones (see exercise 1). The problem is then that the front edge of the block digs into their buttocks making it not sufficiently comfortable to sit for longer periods. Sitting on a prop with a gently sloping surface such the Buttafly or a meditation stool with an angled top will solve this problem.
Balasana is an ideal pose for improving hip flexibility
Now to the floor…
There should not have been too much difficulty performing the pelvic rock in Exercise 1 if you were sitting correctly on the seat, however once we get down on the floor everything becomes a little trickier. Many of us, especially those who have grown up in the West are relatively stiff in the hips so that when we sit on the floor the hips do not have sufficient range to move meaning that the pelvis has to accommodate instead. The body will always take the easy path unless directed otherwise – it is generally easier to let the spine slump than flex tight hips.
In yoga studios everywhere it is common to see “hip-opening” classes advertised. But this expression does not truly reflect what is going on at the hips nor enhance our understanding of what this means for our bodies. In reality the common problem is that the hips are tight going into a flexed position so that there is not the range available for an easy Balasana where the buttocks reach the heels or a full squat. When we come to sit on the floor this lack of flexion means that we are thrown onto the back portion of the sit bones, throwing the pelvis into a posterior rotation with a consequent loss of lumbar lordosis. Bingo! We are back to the C-shaped slouch. The additional requirement of rotation required for cross-legged sitting makes the situation more difficult to achieve. A rule of thumb often cited as a guide for how to sit well cross legged on the floor is that the knees should be below the level hips. However, this is a generalisation and there are many for whom this does not hold true. Undoubtedly, the higher the knees the greater the flexibility required at the hips for the pelvis not to be dragged into a posterior pelvic tilt and of course the higher the knees, the more muscular action required to maintain a neutral pelvis to counter resistance from the hips.
Perch on a dining chair, the seat of which is high enough so that your knees are below the level of your hips. Rest your feet flat on the floor, directly under the knees and place your hands under the corresponding sit bones. Now perform a pelvic rock so that the sit bones slide backwards and forwards on your hands; notice the change in the angle of the hip joints; notice the change in the curvature of the lumbar spine; let your head and neck be free and observe the movement there too. If you really get into it you will notice that even the eyes move up and down. Now, come to a standstill just forward of the mid-point of the rockers in a “neutral pelvis”. You will know when you have got it right because the natural curves of the spine will have found their way automatically and the head will be balanced over the pelvis.
HEAD and NECK
Just as the pelvis is designed to be stable, the head and neck are designed to be free. The head balances on the top of the spine at a pivot point called the atlanto-occipital joint and moves in response to a sensory stimulus – in particular from the eyes and ears; the body then organises itself around the movement of the head. When we sit in a slouch, in the first place the head and neck will follow the rest of the spine and we end up looking down at the floor. However, our in-built protective mechanism will want to keep orientated principally by the use of sight – and so by maintaining the slouch we will have to over extend at the neck to look up stressing joints and straining muscles. To prove a point, slouch over, lift the head so that you can gaze in front of you, now without moving your head and neck, straighten your back you will see that you are now looking up at the ceiling. The implications for the neck to be continually extended like this go way beyond likely fatigue and possible neck strain. The body’s response to stress is to hunch the
One of the many meanings of the ancient Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ is union, and implicit in this meaning is that there are two principles that are linked but still retaining their independence. In the body, the head and pelvis can be considered yoga, as can the lumbar spine and hips. There is a relationship between them but we aim to keep them separate within a given movement as far as is physically possible or unless we choose to move them “as one”. Otherwise the movement is performed in a confused way - this state of confusion is called samyoga, which is not desirable and can result in a lack of space in the body. Slouched sitting can be considered samyoga.
om body shoulders and tighten the muscles on the back of the neck so that sitting in this way replicates a natural stress response. In addition, when the eyes are looking up the nervous system is activated, alert and ready for action and not at all conducive to a health-promoting yoga practice. Releasing the chin down, keeping the back of the neck long and the eyes gently lowered to the floor whether open or closed is crucial to cultivating a sense of safety that is necessary for inner focus and surrender. Also, when the upper spine is shortened in a hunched posture the upper ribs have less room to move. The lower ribs are also restricted as is the diaphragm, compromising the lung expansion in all directions. Be aware too that short, shallow breaths are another feature of stress in the body.
Relaxing the shoulders away from the ears is a common cue in yoga classes. Hunched shoulders are part of the “posturing” of combatants – very easily recognised in cats on a face off. A protective stance designed to protect the vital neck area and again associated with an activated nervous system. One way to remind us to relax the shoulders is to relax the hands. Turn them palm uppermost and rest on your thighs or one atop the other at the lower belly. Support them on a blanket if your arms are relatively short to your body.
Take the work out of it
The work, work, work ethic is an ingrained part of Western culture but when it comes to sitting, the easier you make it for the body to sit comfortably, the better. When the body is comfortable, the nervous system relaxes and this has a profound effect on the tissues at a cellular level, allowing them to reorganise themselves, releasing tension and
ON A CHAIR: • • • • • • • • • •
Feet flat under the knees Sit on the front edge of the chair so that again the weight is taken through the front part of the sit bones. The knees to be below the hips so that the pelvis is in neutral All 3 spinal curves in place Shoulders relaxed Back of the neck long Chin dropped Eyes resting in their sockets, looking down towards the floor Jaw relaxed Hands rest palms uppermost on the thighs
“Nothing is lost by sitting on a chair…” Desikachar, The heart of Yoga.
re-establishing optimal alignment throughout the body with little or no perceived effort from yourself. Sitting on a support almost higher than you might first expect can help this process to happen so that within no time at all you can then sit on a lower support comfortably and with good posture. Use all the props you need to facilitate a well-aligned posture that supports a perfectly balanced head, a free flowing breath and a calm and peaceful nervous system. Bliss.
Louise James is a Chartered Physiotherapist, BWY accredited Yoga Teacher and designer of the innovative new Buttafly seat for yoga and meditation (buttaflyseat.com)
say No to hibernation
Too cold to go to yoga this evening? Not a chance
t may well be wonderful performing yoga on the mat when you wake up to a view of the stunning Santa Monica shoreline… but what if you’re stuck in a dismal council flat in a city where the sun’s packed its bags for the winter? It’s all too easy to hibernate or snuggle under the duvet when it’s cold outside, but it’s important to keep that inner fire going too - and that means doing yoga. Here are some ideas to get you from sofa to studio even when the weather says ‘no’. EMBRACE THE ELEMENTS There’s no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes. Wrap up warm but embrace the elements. It’s great to experience fluctuating seasons. Remember, some people have never seen snow before.
“It’s all too easy to hibernate or snuggle under the duvet when it’s cold outside, but it’s important to keep that inner fire going too.” 44
MOVE LIKE JAGGER Moving breath and body together with a Vinyasa, or in a dynamic class (Ashtanga, hot yoga, Bikram), will generate enough energy to power a small car. You’ll feel less sluggish and ready to take on the world. BEST MATES Okay, so yoga has a zillion mind-body benefits, but there’s even more to it: head off down the local yoga studio and you’ll get to hang out with some fab, fun, likeminded friends. Share stories, compare notes, even complain about the weather - the main thing is you made it to class. OPEN UP The winter encourages us to curl up, hunch our shoulders, in order to buffer the cold. The best way to counter that is to open up the body through yoga asanas, to get our joints, muscles and minds free flowing again. NO REGRETS You’ll never regret going to a yoga class. Yoga stokes your inner fire, so if you’ve made it to the class in the first place - and got that body of yours working strong - the journey home will be a breeze. Just do it!
Yoga Ski Lift 11 poses to build focus and confidence before you take to the slopes Skilled skiing requires poise, focus and confidence. This pre-ski sequence is designed to nurture these qualities as well as to warm up the quads and core and to open up the heart prior to launching ourselves down the mountain. Sometimes it’s possible to get so involved with the mechanics of skiing we forget to admire the view from the top and this sequence also reminds us to take a moment to
Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana)
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Begin in tabletop position, bringing the right knee to your nose as you exhale and, inhaling, stretching the leg up and back. Exhale and return the knee to the nose; continue for a total of 10 breaths before moving to the other side. A tiger’s movements are lazy, considered; move from the inner thigh and fully undulate the spine in both directions. Your neck’s part of your spine; unless you have neck issues, look skywards as you extend your leg. We’re warming the psoas, hamstrings and glutes (especially with the extra two kilos of ski boot) and encouraging spinal flexibility.
appreciate our surroundings. The sequence can be done with ski boots on; just loosen the bindings. Start in the ski lift, with wrist rotations and lifting and replacing each toe in turn inside your boots. With your breath, breathe in for a count of four and exhale for six, clearing the mind (and any pre-ski nerves).
Chair pose is great preparation for skiing since it warms up the quads for that ‘up-down’ movement as you make your turns. From tabletop position, bring your weight back into your heels, squat, then lift your arms, shoulder blades moving down your back, thighs squeezing together, tail bone descending. Heart is open, jaw is relaxed; look up at the sky. Remain here for 10 steady breaths.
Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Bring your hands to your heart in Anjali Mudra and twist from the base of your spine, hooking your right elbow against your left thigh and revolving your chest to the sky. Twists are excellent for the digestive system; take your time with them. Check that the knees remain parallel. Since in skiing you want to keep your upper body facing down the slope even when your skis are pointing elsewhere, twists are an important element of the warm up. Remain here for 10 breaths; return to Utkatasana, then take it to the other side.
3 Plank Pose (Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana)
From Utkatasana, take the hands down to frame the feet and step back into plank pose, neck long, ribs corseted, tummy strong, balls of the feet powering away. Remain here for 10 breaths as you heat the core; most of your dynamism in skiing comes from this part of the body. If youâ€™re not warm yet in all your ski gear and with four kilos of boots, look ahead to the next asana.
4 Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
Ensure the right hand is strong, fingers spread. Roll your weight onto the outside of your right foot, push your right arm into the ground, get long through the body and, inhaling, lift the left leg; exhale as you lower. Do this for 10 breaths. The weight of the ski boots provides an extra challenge. Move through plank to swap to the other side. Vasisthasana awakens the abductor muscles in the hips that are especially useful if you have to skate at any point during your ski day. Finish in plank.
6 Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
From plank, step forwards with the left leg into a low lunge, knee resting on the ground. Sweep the arms upwards, the movement emanating from the armpits; fingers stretch skywards; heart and throat open; lips part; tongue relaxes. Stay grounded in the pelvis, right leg powering back. Shoulder blades move down the back. Check that the hips are square. This is great for warming up the quads and psoas muscles. Remain here for 10 breaths, step back to plank, and then move to the other side.
7 Revolved Hand to Big Toe Pose (Variation) (Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana)
From plank, find your way to standing up straight (Tadasana or Mountain Pose), feet together, stomach strong. Bend your right knee into your body and, with your left palm facing up, take hold of the stirrup on the front of your ski boot. Move the leg across your body (you can hold onto a ski pole for balance) and extend the right arm behind you, gazing over your right shoulder. This is a beautiful, strong twist that revitalises the thoracic spine and awakens the hip adductors. Return to Tadasana after 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Dancing Shiva Pose (Natarajasana)
Vertigo is a contraindication for Natarajasana but since youâ€™re into hurtling down mountains on two steel-edged blades, this shouldnâ€™t affect you. From Tadasana, imagine your left foot shooting roots into the ground. Shine your attention up the leg, envisaging it growing firmer. Bend your right leg behind and reach the right arm back, thumb downwards, to hold the ankle. A strategically placed ski pole aids balance. Left arm lifts, fingers in Chin Mudra, elbow crooked; right leg extends back and up. Expand in all directions as you discover that balance so crucial in skiing. After 10 breaths, swap sides.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
From Tadasana, wrap your right leg around your left (ski boots won’t allow the usual toe tuck) and square the hips before crossing your left arm over your right, bending the elbows and placing the palms together. Tuck the tailbone, lift the elbows, and sit; to feel as if you’re flying, bring your weight forwards to survey your eagle territory. Great for balance and for strengthening the muscles of the standing leg – especially if you’re prone to skiing on one leg occasionally, by accident or by design. Breathe here for 10; swap sides before returning to Tadasana.
From Tadasana, come to kneel. Establish a firm base with the shins, drawing them parallel. Grow tall through the thighs and spine, hips tilting forwards. Sweep the right arm up and windmill it slowly backwards to rest on your right ski boot; repeat with the left, then curl your hips forwards again. Lift up in the thoracic spine, open the chest, heart and throat, soften the tongue and tilt your head. This strong stretch through the front body is a reminder to stay relaxed and open as you ski. Remain for 10 breaths; return to kneeling.
Prostration Pose (Variation) (Naman Pranamasana)
From kneeling, take your hips to your heels and the crown of your head to the ground close to your knees. Grasp your ski pole, hands shoulder distance apart, and lift your arms away from your body. Hips come high. Close your eyes and breathe here for 10 as you open the shoulders. Return to kneeling position and enjoy the view for 10 breaths.
Model and sequence: Zoë Plöger (pizyoga.com) Photos: Madlaina Fontana (madlainafontana.ch)
YOGA THERAPY Glandular fever
Practical yoga therapy The Problem The Solution Glandular fever is a viral infection that usually Known as the ‘Kissing Disease’, this virus techniques to start you is found in young adults. Symptoms include: is generally found in the saliva and can be fatigue, swollen glands, a severe sore throat, spread also via coughs and sneezes. Once on the road to health: and high temperature. Whilst most of the a person has had glandular fever they are physically, mentally, symptoms can resolve within 3-4 weeks, the usually immune to catching it again. To ‘catch’ fatigue can actually last several months. any virus, the body has to be low in immunity emotionally and spiritually. and so taking steps to change your lifestyle through eating, exercise and rest is the By Sarah Swindlehurst solution to bringing healing and strength into your whole being.
Yoga Heart Opening and Releasing
(Mermaid) Bharadvajaâ€™s Twist (Bharadvajasana I)
Start standing focusing just on your breath. Make your movements gentle and slow. Inhale and open the arms up to the side, arching back slightly. Hold for two breaths and then exhale release and fold forwards from the hips. Place the hands on the legs just where you can reach to without straining. Breathe two deep breaths here and then inhale, repeat the opening of the arms. Repeat the whole sequence as many times as you feel okay to. Relax afterwards. Affirmation: I open myself to my path in life (inhale/exhale).
Yoga (Mermaid) Bharadvajaâ€™s Twist (Bharadvajasana I)
Start sitting. Bring first the right leg in front and bend it so that the knee points to the right and the foot to the left. Position the left leg so that the foot points back on the left side and the knee meets the right foot. Place the left hand on the right knee. Inhale and raise the right arm up above the head and then exhale place the hand behind you with the fingertips on the floor. Inhale lift up through the spine (use the back hand to lift you rather than to lean on to it) and exhale twist around to the right. Look over the right shoulder and into the right corners of the eyes. Hold here for three breaths. Release the pose on the exhale and repeat on the other side. Repeat two to three times on each side. Affirmation: I am healthy and healed (inhale/exhale).
Pranayama Cooling Breath (Sitali)
This is great to soothe the throat and lower temperature. Sitting with the legs crossed, or in lotus/half lotus, place the hands on the thighs or knees. Take a few normal breaths in and out through the nose. Now curl your tongue so that the sides of the tongue are rolling up and inhale into the rolled tongue. You should feel the breath over the tongue as it moves to the back of the mouth. Exhale through the mouth slowly with the mouth mostly now closed. Inhale repeat with the tongue rolled up. Do this
for up to 12 rounds (inhale/exhale). If you cannot roll the tongue, have the lips in a circular pout instead. Affirmation: I breathe in healing prana (inhale), and release all discomfort (exhale).
Meditation Connecting to Self
Sitting with the spine upright, close your eyes and focus on the breath. Focus on the quality of your breathing and allow your breath to take on its own natural rhythm. No straining with your breath. Continue for a short time simply sitting and allowing the breath to come and go as it pleases. Observe the breath without judgement. Now focus on your heart area and listen to what the heart wants to say to you. This takes practice. Over time (do this daily) your insights and your path will emerge if you continue to listen to what arises. After you come out of your meditation. Write down anything that has come to you. Affirmation: I breathe in calmness and strength (inhale), and I breathe out self doubt and fear (exhale).
the body and flush out any toxins. Drink 1.5-2 litres of fluid per day to keep you hydrated. Supplement with multi vitamins, fish oil, and vitamin D drops.
What your body is saying
When this particular symptom occurs it is an indication of having taken on too much or being overwhelmed with choices. Others seem to drain you of energy and you can become quite withdrawn and disheartened from all the perceived chaos in your life. If you have this disease, it indicates a time to rest and restore, but also to reevaluate your life and what you really want. This disease has presented itself to you for you to take some time out, by yourself, and to prioritise yourself in your world. Rest, relax and do some meditation and yoga. Then you will see what insights you have whilst having this time out to focus on your path.
Sarah Swindlehurst is the founder of The Yogic Prescription (theyogicprescription.com)
Eat plenty of fresh greens, raw or lightly steamed, and then make them into smoothies with avocado and hemp proteins, which are easy to swallow. Make alkalising juices also as these are very cleansing for
Yoga A-Z Q is for Quiet. By Carole Moritz
Life can get big. Really big. Most of our days are over-scheduled, providing for others, scattering our energies and acculturating ourselves to believe we were meant to live in a constant state of urgency and tension. Denial of self-care is seen as virtuous. Question: what do all martyrs have in common? They all die. Being quiet requires that we let go of something and to prioritise our own wellbeing in order to create space and renew the parts of ourselves that long to refresh. For me, quiet is not the absence of sound or movement, as if there is this whitespace where my mind is void of thought, my body without sensation. It’s an invitation to move into trust of the fullness of human experience.
I can set aside all that requires me to produce, perform and please. We discover quiet spaces when we pause our urgency and striving and realise the hurry to win the race to the finish line is no victory. There, in the spaces in-between, opportunities for quiet present themselves – the anticipation of a lover’s kiss, or looking out at the morning sky with a cup of coffee in hand before the first sip. The practice of yoga helps one to inform and transform the mind and body’s insistence to resistance. Quiet is an experience of permission to set aside all that distracts us from our birthright to be beloved. Through the focus and discipline of asanas, we calm the
mind’s chatter and work out the wiggles to prep us for the rigours of quiet. White space doesn’t just happen. Like postures, it takes time to work toward the ultimate bliss of quiet. Some days the body and mind are turbulent and fidgety - might as well go off and blast some Journey tracks in the car and come back later. Even in an effort to do ‘nothing’ we are doing ‘something’. But if it makes you feel better that you are doing ‘something’, know that even in the restorative pose of Savasana, you are doing the important work of doing ‘nothing’. And here is a space where you can find that quiet, and, within that time of quiet repose, or rest… you can awaken.
OMFM OM FOR MEN
Page 54: Faces of Yoga Page 57: Man on the mat
Photo: Amy Goalen (amygoalen.com) Yogi: Lamonte Tales Goode (cyberyoga.la)
faces yoga of
What do you really look like when youâ€™re on the yoga mat? (Warning: itâ€™s nothing like Instagram!) 54
S filmmaker and photographer Jonah Sargent has come up with a novel approach to showing us what yoga is really about - a montage of faces of both men and women on the mat doing their thing. The close ups show people straining, in awkward positions, and a few in a rather more blissful state - but all generally far less graceful than the usual image of yoga, and nothing like what we’ve come to expect from Instagram (perfect bodies, perfect lives, etc.). Sargent, from Minneapolis, got his start directing and producing films and sketch comedy while a student at the University of Wisconsin. He went on to join The Daily Show where he cut his production teeth in a live broadcast environment, before moving on to work in New York City. He’s now also working on documentary films, features, comedy shorts and client videos. A keen yoga enthusiast, he’s just raised backing via crowd funding to get his photos printed in a glossy coffee table book, Faces of Yoga: Uncomfortable Photos of People in Strange Positions - A Response To The Glamorization of The Ancient Discipline.
Sargent says he’s keen to debunk the myth that only people who take sexy yoga poses on beaches to post on Instagram practice the exercise. And support for the book and pre-order sales show there’s a lot of interest out there in what yoga really looks like. “When I first started yoga I was constantly distracted by how I looked and felt during class,” he says. “In the era of Instagram profiles devoted to sexy yoga models posing on beaches it’s important to remember that we all look bad during yoga so we should immerse ourselves in it and forget the rest.” Amen to that. To find out more about Jonah Sargent or to pre-order the book visit: jonahsargent.com
Tell us what you think of Jonah Sargent’s photos. Better still, send us your own. Email: email@example.com 56
MAN ON THE MAT:
FM WITH MARK FREETH
Folded, Bound ’N’ Twisted Benefits
So many! Firstly, essentially it’s a forward fold, so the work on the low back and the hamstrings is phenomenal. It’s also a bound posture (around the thigh, hand to foot), so there’s a cool inward rotation – and thus opening – of the shoulder. There’s a twist in there too, which does a number on the whole trunk of the body. But also, look at that upper leg – as you point the knee to the ceiling, the opening in the hip and the stretch on the quads can’t be ignored. And of course it’s a onelegged balancing pose – something we should do every day of our lives – just to step out of the comfort zone of standing on two feet.
Don’t rely too much on that supporting hand – it’s just that – for support. All the weight should be down through that standing leg. You want to feel like you should be able to take those fingers away from the floor and you still remain upright. And lift that upper leg as high as you can – if it just hangs, keeps pointing to floor, there’s almost no point. And don’t just hang forwards either – pull the chest through that gap between supporting arm and leg and try and take it to the ceiling.
n Y ou approach this posture from standing splits, so you will initially bend the standing leg, bend the upper leg, take a supporting hand slightly out to the side and bind the other arm round the standing thigh to grab the foot. Then slowly start to point the upper knee to the ceiling and straighten the standing leg – all the time keeping the gaze fixed. n Don’t worry if you can’t completely straighten the leg or open up the hip – this will be dependent on your current flexibility. Just work right up to your own edge. Don’t step over the line into pain – there lies disaster! But this is a thrilling and challenging pose – so enjoy.
You’re upside down, you’re delicately balancing so you want to be focusing on a spot that isn’t moving – on the floor, or the wall you can see – otherwise you’re going to fall over. And check in on the hamstrings, low back muscles and that upper hip, they’re going to benefit immensely from this posture, but you need to make sure you’re easing yourself into this – it’s strong – and you don’t want to overdo it and pull a muscle. It should definitely be around the middle or towards the end of at least an hour long training session to ensure you’re warm.
Get happy and healthy in 2016… with yoga
oga is all you need if you’re looking to get the new year off to a flying start. Yes, just a few minutes or so on the mat, a few times a week, and you’ll soon start to feel like a whole new person, inside and out. Take the yoga path for optimum mind, body and spiritual health…who knows where it will lead? We’ve put together this mini yoga starter guide to give you a few ideas on what it’s like to get going on your yoga journey. You’ll discover that it’s more than just physical exercise, something that’ll build strength and tone the body - it’s a whole way of life. Yoga can help raise awareness in all aspects of your life, such as identifying limiting beliefs to help you break through to better things, as well as opening up a whole new community of likeminded people. Forget fad diets, starting yoga is all you need for your new year’s resolutions list this year. But don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of others out there doing it already. Read on to find out more. Even if you don’t get this yoga ‘thing’ just yet, then we’ve also got some inspiring stories from people who have had the courage to follow their dreams in other areas of life too (from foraging to cycling). There are many paths to liberation, although yoga can certainly help you gain that courage if you’re feeling a little apprehensive ahead of a new start. Still not convinced it’s the right way to go? Just check in to your nearest yoga studio to find out more.
New Year, New You - Starter Tips
#1 MAKE MEMORIES Fill your 2016 with lots of special moments, fabulous things, great yoga and other fun things. Make time for friends, family and adventure - that’s what life’s all about. #2 WORK THAT BODY Do yoga. Go running. Play tennis. Take up golf. Swim, abseil or ice skate. Book those Jujitsu classes you’ve also wanted to take. Get that body of yours moving, whatever floats your boat. #3 SLOW DOWN This year is not a race to the finish line. Slow down and enjoy the moment. Meditation and mindfulness will help you get there. #4 KEEP IT REAL Don’t be over ambitious. If you’re starting out in yoga then make things realistic. If there’s no way you can take 60 minutes out of your daily schedule, that’s okay… just five minutes a day is better than nothing. #5 FEED YOUR BODY, FEED YOUR SOUL Eating right doesn’t have to start with a big detox. Include more fresh, wholesome, organic foods into your diet and you’ll soon start to feel the difference. Drink lots of water and feel your energy levels soar.
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A home practice
There’s no place like home and that goes for your yoga too. Here are some tips on rolling out your mat in the comfort of your own living room CLEAR THE CLUTTER: you can do your yoga anywhere but it helps if you have a nice space at home where you know you can safely stretch out without clattering the kids JUST GET ON YOUR MAT: even if you just take a few deep breaths when you get there and don’t feel inclined to continue, at least you did something START SMALL: keep your expectations low, no daily practice has to be demanding FIVE MINUTES: that’s all it takes to loosen your back and to reconnect with yourself; any extra is a bonus ONLINE YOGA: invite expert teachers from around the world into your home (see below) GET TO CLASS: if you can make it to a class, even now and then, it’ll do wonders for your motivation DO IT FOR YOU: yoga is there to serve you, not the other way around; this is the start of a new, beautiful and fulfilling relationship with the most important person on earth - you
Online classes are a great way to spruce up your home yoga practice. Here are a couple of the best ones EKHART YOGA An online yoga resource with over 1,600 videos, 30 international teachers and 15 different styles. EkhartYoga offers real yoga for real people. Practice yoga at home or on the move – anytime, anywhere. If you’re starting out, join the Hatha Yoga for Beginners programme (ekhartyoga.com/yoga-forbeginners) to learn the basics (available with an active subscription). ekhartyoga.com MOVEMENT FOR MODERN LIFE This leading online yoga site has partnered with raw food experts Better Raw to create a groundbreaking online cleansing programme that works on a deep cellular level. Their Cellular Renewal Retreat takes place on January 18, 2015 and uses a combination of transformative mind, body techniques, nutritious foods and wellbeing practices to supercharge your system allowing it to cleanse, renew and heal on a cellular level. After the retreat, all participants will receive encouragement to keep up their yoga practice and join a brand new Improvers 21-day Yoga Challenge. Sign up now. movementformodernlife.com
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yoga holds the potential to transform the Body-Mind landscape, why not complement your practice and embrace the health of the Earth also ?
a boon to your pratice start 2016 with intent (:
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om yoga starter guide
great reasons to start practicing yoga
have practiced yoga for a long time now; I am hugely grateful that I was introduced to the practice of yoga because of all the amazing benefits it has given me. These benefits are available to everyone - yes, everyone! Men or women, every age and body size, strong or weak, supple or inflexible. Yoga will make you feel better, no exceptions. You may need to find the style or teacher that suits you and your situation, but once you do, yoga has the capacity to change your life for the better. Below are some of the main reasons why I think everyone should do yoga:
Yoga makes you feel better
Itâ€™s a simple as that. It is why so many people get hooked on yoga; you will always feel better after a yoga class. Of course, if you are a beginner and start with an advanced class you might end up feeling more frustrated. But pick a suitable class for your level and approach it with an open mind and you will feel different, more open, present, happier and better. If you donâ€™t believe me, try it!
Esther Ekhart gives her top reasons why everyone should start practicing yoga
Yoga makes your body strong, supple and healthy
Of course you may need to give it time but most people start feeling the physical benefits of yoga during their first class. Your flexibility will increase, your fitness levels will improve, your muscles will grow stronger and become more supple. The amount will vary depending on the style you choose. I recommend starting with Hatha yoga as this is the root of most styles of yoga. As your body gets stronger your mind will too. You will feel more self-confident and stronger in yourself.
Yoga helps to quieten your mind and makes you feel calm
After a yoga class I always find my state of mind has shifted. Itâ€™s like my mind has had a spring clean. Some things have fallen into place, or I have a completely different perspective on them, or they have disappeared altogether. Overall I am in a much quieter place. This helps me with the next reason to practice.
om yoga starter guide
Yoga helps you to stay focused
Because your mind will be quieter and clutter-free it is easier to direct the energy to where you want it to go. Yoga generally moves me from being all over the place, to being able to focus on one thing again. In yoga they say you develop â€˜onepointedness concentrationâ€™ through practice. I can say for sure that it really does happen. You train the mind to become aware and present. Research has even shown that after a yoga class you are generally better able to focus your mental resources, process information more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively. How about that?!
Yoga helps you to accept whatever life brings to your table
Life experiences are not always positive. Difficult things happen to us all and sometimes we will be in pain. Yoga has taught me that everything changes. Both the positive but also the painful things in life come and go. Knowing this and understanding this on a deeper level makes it easier to accept and stay present and positive, even through the hard times.
Yoga helps you to make healthier choices
Becoming healthier and experiencing all the benefits of yoga will make you more aware and able to choose things in life that support this positive journey. You will slowly become more aware of how things influence you. You will probably find you naturally want to make changes to your diet, choosing foods which
support your health and yoga practice. You may see this in your friendship groups too, choosing to spend more time with friends who have a positive influence and approach, and developing more strength to move away from negative situations.
Yoga makes you more aware
That is the essence of it. You will become more aware of everything, who you really are, your tendencies, what is good for you and not so good for you, what you really want and what is important to you. It helps you to tune into your truth. As you develop self awareness you are able to recognise and interpret your own thoughts and thought patterns - this in turn allows you to influence and even alter your emotions. Self awareness is one of the key attributes of emotional intelligence and a hugely important factor in achieving success in different areas of your life. Esther Ekhart is the face and founder of EkhartYoga.com
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The power of intention The power of setting an intention in your yoga practice. By Amanda Harvey
om yoga starter guide
s many of the great thinkers of our time have said, you get in life what you have the courage to ask for. I truly believe that being clear about who I want to become and what qualities I want to develop provide me with purpose and power in my life. One way to develop this power is to use your yoga practice as an opportunity to set your intention and rehearse putting it into action on the mat, with the aim of it becoming abundant in your life off of the mat.
What is an intention?
An intention is an aim that guides action; your reason for being based on what really matters the most to you in your life. It is not a goal, but is a continual aspiration or path. It is about the person you want to become, rather than the stuff you want to do or things you want to have.
Why set an intention?
Your intention sets the tone for whatever you are about to do. Like music in a yoga class, intentions can influence our mood, thoughts, feelings and actions. By setting the intention for your practice, you are creating the space to become more of the person you want to be, simply by holding this focus and exploring it throughout your practice.
Seven steps to powerful intention setting
n Begin by creating space as you make your way into your practice. As you settle onto your mat, take some time to let go of any thoughts or feelings, mentally release any areas of tension or stiffness and begin to draw your attention inwards. Find the space where you are able to consciously connect to yourself.
n Take a moment to consider; what brought me to my practice today? Why have I put this time aside? What is it that I would like to develop or nurture through my practice today? n Utilise what is coming up for you to choose your intention for your practice. Frame your intention in a positive light, focused in the present. It may come out as something as simple as “I am peaceful.” Your intention may come in different forms whether it is a word, a dedication, quote or prayer-just be open to what comes to mind. n As you move through your postures and as you focus on your breath also take some time to come back to your intention. Let your intention ground and focus your practice. Notice how you feel when you bring your intention to mind. n As you move into savasana (your relaxation posture) at the end of your practice, consider how your intention influenced your practice. What did you notice? What thoughts and feelings came up for you?
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n Consider how you might bring your intention into the rest of your day or what actions you can take to make this intention more present in your life. This is the big challenge, it’s easy to embed the intention of “I am peaceful” whilst on the mat but can you continue to live that intention once you move into the other parts of your life?
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n Share your intention with others. Consider who you might share this with and how they might support you to make your intention more present in your life. By sharing, you are not only bringing your intention into focus but you are also setting a positive example and inspiring others.
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om yoga starter guide
My daily yoga
challenge What I learned from my 30 day yoga challenge. By Stephanie Fitzgerald
om yoga starter guide intention and purpose, which I so dutifully took to my mat, had now followed me off it. I had grown as a yogi.
My practice is MY practice
t’s fair to say I like a challenge. I like pushing myself further and seeing what I’m capable of and what I can achieve. So given that I wake up at 5am, commute for two hours to London, work a full day, travel home and then work in my clinic in the evenings, finding time for a meaningful yoga practice for 30 days straight was indeed going to be a challenge. I decided to take on a 30 days yoga challenge for two reasons. Firstly, I recently injured myself and it has been pretty traumatic and horrible and I wanted/needed to put something nourishing for my body into my day-to-day life. Secondly, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it…did I mention I like a challenge? I could detail the day-to-day ins an outs of it all but 30 days is a long time so I’ll spare you the minutiae. However, there are three key lessons from completing my yoga challenge.
I’ve grown as a yogi
When I first started yoga about five years ago, it was all about the postures. I was desperate to get some strength and flexibility into my body and I focused solely on whether or not I could reach or bend in different postures. But during this challenge I started to take my yoga off the mat. After days of my knee injury keeping me awake, I felt sore and upset and grumpy. I then took painkillers and went into a blissful sleep which was disturbed when my alarm went off so that I could do yoga. I made the decision to turn it off and go back to sleep (a previously unheard of action on my part). I realised that this was me honouring my body. I recognised what my body needed and honoured my intention to look after myself. I didn’t follow my ego which was telling me that in order to ‘achieve’ I had to get on my mat. I listened to my body, and it felt great. I realised then that this kindness,
I think the yoga rockstars are brilliant and they and their instagram accounts inspire me every single day and I thank them for it (truly I am honoured and grateful that they share their teachings and learnings with us). However, I did not publish 30 pictures on this challenge. I didn’t publish one. I didn’t really let people know I was doing it. My time on my mat became mine. A few close friends knew I was doing it, mostly because they saw my mirror, and a couple of my fellow yogis were on the same path with me, but other than that it was my time. In a world that is so exposing and so published, it can feel as though we have lost any sense of privacy. But those precious moments on my mat were deliciously mine and they were the most valued part of my day.
This is just the beginning
When the 30 days were up, I didn’t feel a huge ‘hurrah’. My final practice did not feel ‘final’ and indeed did not go the way I thought it would. A workshop I attended did not ‘flow’ as well as it might (no pun intended) and I’d had that down as the big ‘hooray I’m done!’ moment. But it didn’t happen and I wasn’t disappointed. Instead I saw it as a very gentle nudge from the universe that ‘hey, you’re not done here’. There isn’t a big ‘ta dah!’ end to your practice, because your practice isn’t ending. Instead this is merely the beginning. So would I recommend a similar challenge? Absolutely. It was an opportunity to spend time with my mat every day. To breathe. To be social and share my challenge with people who had no idea that the class we were in was part of my journey. It was a space to release tension, stress and emotion that was locked into my body during long hours and long commutes. But apart from all that it was a challenge. And I like a challenge.
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om yoga starter guide
From Go to Slow T here’s no better feeling than starting over, taking the plunge into something new. Ahead, there is only wonder, and behind, a blanket of experiences to help you move forward. But as the Queen nicely put it in her 2013 Christmas Broadcast: “...with so many distractions, it’s easy to forget to pause and take stock. Be it through contemplation, prayer, or even keeping a diary...” The point is…the moment is always now. Yoga is a great transformational too for appreciating each and every moment, to pause from our lives and to take stock – but there are other ways too. Following are the journeys of four ordinary people I’ve met along my own path of self-discovery. They all ‘live’ yoga in the sense that they’ve committed themselves to filling their hearts with joy, building resilience and turning their lives around, even if they don’t knowingly practice it on a mat. It’s wonderful inspiration wherever you are on your own journey.
WOODY – A HEART IN THE CLOUDS Antony Woodward, or ‘Woody’ to the locals, was an advertising professional who uprooted his family from London to literally build a garden in the clouds (also the title of a book that propelled it all). Constantly inspired by his childhood, Woody also faced the struggle to give up a financially secure career. His mum was wheelchair-bound, and although he had a pleasant childhood in Somerset, their choice for mobility was limited. But the dream spoke louder than material gain. Despite everyone’s best judgement he and his family of five settled down at the top of an unGoogleable Welsh valley. Tair-Ffynnon is at the lower end of Llanthony and reachable via steep and narrow single-track lanes often braved by hang gliders. When you meet Woody for a cup of tea surrounded by the grounding silence of its windswept hills you understand.
Looking to change your life this year? Meet four ordinary people who did just that. By Paolla Grecco
ADELE – BACK TO BASICS In one of her Brecon Beacons foraging walks, Adele Nozedar will tell you that bitter tastes are vital to aid digestion, such as Dandelion or Jack-By-The-Hedge leaves. As she leads you into muddy footpaths between farm houses to harvest the many weed-looking edibles you will never guess that Adele brushes shoulders with A-list music folk. Her journey began over 15 years ago when she left London for a semi-derelict house in South Wales, Torpantau, three miles away from the nearest pub. There, she and her husband built Twin Peaks, a recording studio. Fast forward, Adele is now as much a part of the magic that draws so many to the Beacons as Tolkien’s favourite countryside. You can meet her working part-time at Book-ish in Crickhowell where she also holds walks during the towns’ Walking Festival in March and The Green Man Festival in August, or you can a read about her foraging exploits.
BORJA – A CYCLING JOURNEY Borja Dacasa Pereira, a 30-year-old from Ourense, the Galician portion of Spain, is a software engineer who completed an impressive bicycle journey from Portugal to Norway. In itself, that is no small feat, but what’s less known is that in his mid-twenties he almost lost the ability to walk given a sedentary lifestyle. Hit with such an event, Borja took upon himself to fully recover against all odds. Then, only five years later, he set out on his own epic adventure, cycling more than 5,000 km from Cabo da Roca to Nordkapp. “Cycling can be hard on the back, but it actually felt better than ever. I guess our bodies are designed to be moving,” he says. Borja left his secure job in Lisbon, despite the struggling economy, and never looked back. He is now preparing for his next adventure whilst promoting a slow travel lifestyle. You can read all about it on his blog Cape West to Cape North or follow his Facebook page: facebook.com/capewestcapenorth
om yoga starter guide DR SARA BOOTH – BREATHING MINDFULNESS INTO THE NHS Dr Sara Booth is an NHS doctor, turned resilience and visual arts advocate for managing chronic illness. Her journey started 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with SLE, commonly known as Lupus. More recently, Sara was at Cambridge’s Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) helping patients, their carers and families to focus on what was working in their lives. Managing patients’ and her own chronic condition lead to the discovery of positive psychology and meditation. “I don’t know what came first, helping the patients or helping myself,” she says. These days, you can meet Sara in her hypnosis clinic in Cambridge, in one of her talks about managing chronic ill-health or try her approach with her Wellbeing Journal published in partnership with Fitzwilliam Museum. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to embrace yoga or a new mindful lifestyle, everyone agrees commitment is essential. And in the hard work that is facing your fear of letting go to start anew, no one puts it better than Paulo Coelho. He, an ordinary person, committed to an asylum as a young man not once but twice by his parents because he wanted something different from the norm, then to later become a song writer during dictatorship in Brazil only to end up arrested and brutally tortured. Fast forward a little and he has a cushy job at a record studio and all the comforts money could buy. But then again, his fear was there and he left it all to gift the world with The Pilgramage and so many other inspiring books. One of his top tips to finding your way at that moment you arrive at the edge of yourself is: “Courage in the path is what makes the path manifest itself.”
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om yoga starter guide
Change your life
Yoga is a powerful transformational tool that can turn your life around. Here are some other tips to make this year your best ever THINK YOUNGER: thinking young doesn’t mean having to squeeze yourself into the latest dance gear or saving up for cosmetic surgery. It just means keeping an open mind about life’s endless possibilities. ENJOY THE MOMENT: there is more to savouring than merely relishing the moment. It is about noticing, appreciating, and enhancing positive experiences. Savouring involves intentionally slowing down and paying attention to your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell). You stretch out the experience, and concentrate on noticing what gives you pleasure, whether it’s sipping a glass of wine or stroking the cat. GIVE A HUG: research has shown that physical contact can have a remarkable effect on human health and recovery. CLEAN GREEN: switching your cleaning products to natural, nontoxic alternatives can have big benefits for your health and the environment. The harmful effects of mainstream cleaning products are now well known and there are plenty of effective ‘green’ products on sale. ENHANCE THE SMELL OF HOME: replace factory-made air
fresheners with homemade potpourri. FIND RESILIENCE: what makes people respond differently to their misfortunes? Researchers believe that optimism, temperament, selfcontrol, and sense of humour all contribute to someone’s ability to recover, as do positive and supportive relationships. CAPTURE HAPPY MEMORIES: keeping a diary can act as a positive force in your life. By taking time to appreciate happy experiences, you may increase the positive emotion associated with an occasion. GET OUT OF THE DEN: just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hibernate and watch television.Take advantage of the season to enjoy winter sports and activities, including some outdoor fun. DO IT NOW: whatever it is you’ve been putting off - do it now. Extracts from ‘Change Your Life One Day at a Time: The Ultimate Manual For Living a Long, Healthy and Happy Life by Dr Ilona Boniwell and Dr Patricia MacNair published by Modern Books, £14.99. Available from all good bookshops
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affirmations from leading mindfulness activist Susie Pearl to aid you through. For more information, visit www.lemondetox.com. And leading tailor-made retreats and wellness consultancy, Ibiza Retreats, are offering you the chance to get your glow back in mind, body and soul with a 5-day break on the stunning White Isle. Working with world-class teachers and therapists, Ibiza Retreats will set you up nicely to continue the good work at home. For more information, visit ibizaretreats.com.
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─ 伀䘀䘀 漀甀爀 䌀栀椀氀搀爀攀渀ᤠ猀 夀漀最愀 䌀漀氀氀攀挀琀椀漀渀 䔀欀漀琀攀砀 䬀椀搀猀 䴀愀琀猀 匀琀漀爀礀 䈀漀漀欀猀 ☀ 䌀愀爀搀猀 䄀甀搀椀漀猀 挀漀搀攀㨀 伀䴀䬀䤀䐀匀㘀
眀眀眀⸀琀栀攀礀漀最愀猀栀漀瀀甀欀⸀挀漀洀 㠀 㐀 㐀㘀㔀
om mind Meditation of the month
Who am I? A meditation to understand your true self. By Jill Lawson
t the core of yoga underlies the question: “Who am I?” This is a natural, human inquisition, and many will ask this of themselves at some point in his or her life. But how can we be sure of whom we really are, especially when we live in a society that imposes upon us the need to project an image of who we think we should be? It is easy to get caught up in believing material things identify us. While these things may formulate an impression about who we are, they are not really who we are on the inside. The following meditation is articulated to invoke self-awareness so we may get closer to, or perhaps even connect with, the truth about ourselves at the very core. Practice this meditation either in nature, or in a starkly decorated room. It is important to not have many material items present, as these items can affect the energetic process of detaching from our societal identity.
Do it now
Sitting in a comfortable position, allow your breath to come to a deep and rhythmic pace. After several minutes, proceed to breathe in the internal sound, ‘sooooo,’ and breathe out the internal sound,
‘haaaaaam.’ By doing this, you are silently repeating the mantra, ‘Soham.’ This mantra is associated with our ability to be spatially aware of ourselves, as well as connect with the vast universe around us. The meaning of this mantra is: “I am that.” It is the vibration of the universe, much like the mantra, ‘Om,’ yet it resides in our breath. ‘So’ is the inhale, and ‘ham’ is the exhale. With consistent practice, the gap between awareness of yourself, and awareness of the universe will lessen. It is when these two subjects of awareness merge that you will feel the answer to the question: “Who am I?” Because, in that moment, you will realise, you are not only connected to the wondrous universe in which you live…you are that universe. This meditation brings liberation to those who practice it. It is quite an honour to be free from the bondage of an imposed identity and connect with your true self. When you find union with the universe, you understand that the true nature of who you are at the core is everything. You are the sun, the moon, and all of space. You are really that special, because, you are that! Soham.
Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher in Colorado, USA (jilllawsonyoga.com)
Live 4 today
7 steps to help you live for the moment. By Lucy Kite
his article comes with a warning. You are about to read about how to live in the moment from a compulsive planner. It feels only right to be upfront! Seriously, planning is my default setting - I write lists and sub lists, spend way too long mulling over my beloved month-to-view kitchen calendar; I try and solve problems before they’ve even happened and I’ve now even gone to the lengths of designing my own inspirational 2016 diary to lead the rest of the world astray too with my bad habits! The thing is planning makes us feel prepared, safe,
in control and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing until you’re so consumed with looking at the future that you forget to enjoy today. I am certainly guilty of that but I am working really hard to change it on and off the mat. Reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now has definitely changed my thinking. He says ‘the present moment is all you have’ which you can’t really argue with. It is indeed precious but in a world with so many distractions how do we slam the brakes on a busy mind long enough to smell the roses? Since I am now a well-versed student in battling a turbulent mind here are my practical tips to help you along the way:
Give every task you do your full attention. Even if you’re washing up notice the bubbles, the temperature of the water on your hands.
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Take a moment in your day to stop and notice how you feel: maybe you’re stuck in traffic and feel angry, maybe anxious due to lack of time, maybe happy sitting in the sunshine. Whatever it may be acknowledge the emotion you have now, don’t just be aware.
Repeat a mantra. This may sound a bit ‘out there’ but it is a useful way to bring you back to now. Take a minute and repeat in your mind: ‘Live for now’
Notice your breathing. We’ve all heard people say ‘take a deep breath’ and it works. Breathe slowly and fully, slowing it down and noticing the breath flood your body.
On your yoga mat try not to fight thoughts: let them come, notice them but then let them float away as easily as they came in.
Take your yoga outdoors. Feel the breeze against your skin and the earth beneath your feet.
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Write your to do list, jot down your dreams, but accept that some tasks may not get done straight away. It’s great to have focus but remember to be kind to yourself. After all, there is always tomorrow...so live for today!
Lucy Kite is a yoga teacher and has published her own inspirational 2016 diary (lucykite.co.uk)
Building minds and muscles together. 77
A CALM COMMUTE
Meg Jackson explains how to find your centre..even when you’re on the Central Line
uring my yoga teacher training we were told a story of a wise, spiritual teacher who was looking for somewhere to build his meditation school. He turned down beautiful mountain ranges, tranquil beaches and quiet woodland copses. Instead, he put his meditation school next to the noisiest factory he could find. This confused his followers who asked him why on earth he had chosen such a seemingly daft place. His reply was: “If you can meditate here, you can meditate anywhere.” No one likes a smart-arse, but he had a point. If we’re going to find ways of bringing as much of yoga’s amazingness as possible into our real lives, then we’ve got to adopt a similar attitude. I’ve heard many teachers say that real yoga begins when you step off the mat, and I couldn’t agree more. But can we bring it into the most stressful part of the day for many of us – our daily commute? I think we can.
I can’t promise you’ll all be floating to work on a cloud of bliss, but if your trip to and from work leaves you feeling frazzled and fried, then give some of these ideas a go.
Walking and wondering
Try to make your walk to the station or bus stop more mindful than moan-ful. For a start, try to leave home with a little time to spare so you’re not under pressure to break a land speed record. As you’re walking, see if you can repeat a simple mantra with each step to help you keep your mind in that moment, rather than rushing off to thoughts of the day to come. You might try ‘lifting, moving, placing’ as your foot moves through the air with each step. Or perhaps just ‘walking, walking, walking’ is enough to keep you present. But please remember to look both ways before crossing any roads (getting run over is a sure fire way to bring you out of your bliss).
REAL LIFE YO GA
“As you feel the perfect balance between all those opposing forces, allow the corners of your mouth to lift into a subtle smile as you realise that feeling balanced, grounded and powerful is only ever a breath away” Man (or woman) mountain
Whilst waiting for your bus or train practice tadasana (mountain pose). First of all make sure you haven’t got a bag slung awkwardly over one shoulder. If possible, put it safely on the floor, or get a sensible backpack your mother would approve of, so you can distribute the weight evenly on your body. Take your awareness down into your feet; rock gently backwards and forwards – lifting up onto your toes and rolling back onto your heels. Feel how the weight easily moves along your feet. Find a place to rest where it’s evenly spread. Ground down through the base of your big toe, base of your little toe, and in the two corners of your heels. From this place of grounding, feel a lifting sensation starting from the arches of your feet, moving up your calves, lifting your knee caps, and drawing up your thighs. Feel your belly button draw up and back towards your spine and feel your breastbone lift. Imagine you have a
golden thread pulling you up through the top of your head. Let your shoulders drop down away from your ears and feel broad across the front of your chest. Allow your arms to rest easily by your sides. As you feel the perfect balance between all those opposing forces, allow the corners of your mouth to lift into a subtle smile as you realise that feeling balanced, grounded and powerful is only ever a breath away. Plus, smiling for no apparent reason is a great way to freak out your fellow commuters and that’s never an opportunity to miss.
From top to toes
If you’ve successfully wrestled fellow passengers to the ground and got yourself a seat (only joking, obviously) or if you’re sitting in your car then there’s a chance to find calmness here too. Ultimately, you want to build up your mental stamina so you can
om mind remain in a state of bliss for the whole journey. But you need to create this capacity over time. To begin with, every time the train pulls into a station or the bus pauses at a stop, take a moment to do this simple body scan. (If you’re in charge of driving heavy machinery, please note that we don’t want you too blissed out and you really should keep your eyes open for this one.) Close your eyes (not if you’re behind the steering wheel!). With your awareness starting at the top of your head, scan your whole body. Imagine it moving over your face and jaw, through your neck, shoulders, chest, abdominals, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, feet and toes and see if, as you scan, you can spot any areas where you might be holding tension. When you find one, see if you can send an exhale into that bit of you and allow the breath to release it. If you can’t release it, see if you can imagine how it would feel to release it. When you reach your toes, pause. Breathe. Smile. Gently open your eyes. Don’t worry if next time you do it, the same awkward spot is just as it was, or if the tension has moved somewhere else. That’s all part of the experience.
Stop seeing red
Depending on how comfortable you are with other commuters thinking you’re a bit weird, this might be one that the car drivers (and passengers) amongst you want to use. But if you’re happy busting out some moves on the Northern Line, or the number 249 bus, don’t let me stop you. You can do some or all of these whenever it’s safe to do so to keep those tight spots from taking hold: NECK ROLLS: take your chin to chest, then let your left ear slowly move to your left shoulder. Now roll the chin across the front of your body and let the right ear move to your right shoulder. Repeat a few times.
SHRUG IT OFF: lift shoulders up towards ears, then let them drop down. Let shoulders make big circles one way, then the other. Feel broad across the collar bones and shoulder blades. TAKE A WRIST: circle both hands to release tension in forearms and wrists. Put fingertips on the bottom of the steering wheel and gently push the bottom of the hand forward, so that you feel a stretch through the underneath of the forearm. Use the right hand to gently push on the back of your left hand, as if you were trying to get the left fingertips to touch the left wrist (Warning: they won’t so don’t try to make them!). This will help to release tension across the back of the hand and into the forearm. Repeat on the other hand. FLUBBER LIPS: take an inhale then ‘flubber’ the lips with an exhale to release any tension in the mouth. This also reminds me of doing an impression of a snorting horse. But that might just be me. CHEW IT OVER: move your mouth and lips as if you were eating a massive marshmallow. Move your jaw around, move your lips. For added entertainment imagine you’re in one of those really badly dubbed Kung Fu movies. STAMP IT OUT: make circles with your feet to release tension in the ankles. Wiggle your feet up and down. To give your mind a little workout too, see if you can make a clockwise circle with your right foot whilst making a counter-clockwise circle with your right hand. Have a go on the other side. Wiggle your toes. 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. Find out more at: reallifeyoga.net
If you haven’t been doing this since you left home, I doubt the journey has gone well. Using your breath is the quickest way to get a sense of calm. See if you can balance your breath – gently encouraging the inhale and exhale to be the same length, the same effort and the same volume. If the inhale lasts for a count of 3, the exhale is the same – or 4, or 7; whatever your count is allow it to feel effortless. Counting the breath can also give the mind a useful anchor to keep coming back to when it wanders off to wondering who in the carriage smells like a wet dog. And it’s not even raining.
om mind De-Stress: Yoga off the Mat
Space, the final frontier, to boldly go where no person has gone before. By Charlotte Watts
his wondrous line from the classic sci-fi series Star Trek may seem like a bit of a clichĂŠ, but it does quite neatly describe how each of us has the opportunity to experience the space of each and every moment of our lives. Our yoga practice is an opportunity to explore that and expand into it, and take into our lives an attitude where we are looking for more space, not just filling it with more things to do.
Many of us begin a yoga practice because we find ourselves pretty hemmed in by the onslaught, stimulation, demands and franticness of our lives. A yoga class may be the first time that many people have spent with themselves since they were young and playful. Many new students in my classes show a great deal of anxiety at the prospect and experience of suddenly being simply with silence, stillness and the space to feel what that means.
When we are used to filling every minute with doing, communicating, planning, musing over decisions to make and worrying, then time dedicated to not doing, just being and actually undoing can seem pretty scary. Many people can be drawn to classes where the practice is fast and busy so they donâ€™t have to feel the vulnerability of space, but that can be a distraction as ultimately all meditative and spiritual practices are moving us towards opening
“A yoga class maybe the first time that many people have spent with themselves since they were young and playful.” that allow direct experience of meeting space and the exhalation is where we can feel that happening as part of release. This can help us move beyond being a slave to those voices in our heads. We all know that those evaluations, comparisons and judgements can be exhausting and drive us towards decisions and actions we might not feel are being true to ourselves. In yoga, the space between breaths (where
the inhalation hands over to the exhalation and vice versa) is called a kumbhaka, meaning ‘empty pot’ in Sanskrit. This space signifies potential, a still point of meditation where anything seems possible for the next moment, the next breath. If we can just linger there, without pushing into it, we can feed our ability to punctuate our lives with spaces in which to allow decompression. In yoga, the postures (asanas) were incorporated into the system as a method for embodiment in preparation for meditation. Yogis realised that unless we were fully able to occupy our physical bodies as part of our whole beings, then we would remain constricted and with barriers to opening up to each moment. We always have a choice to practice yoga physically as if we were simply toning our bodies or as an opportunity to practice being with space and take this expanded, reflective and open viewpoints into the way we live our lives and feel more freedom and joy.
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)
YOGA ENQUIRIES INTO SPACE
In yoga asanas we are always looking for ways to play with and open up into space. Consider how we can use the breath to feel continual play and exploration within our practice:
out into emptiness. It is natural to feel bored with not much going on, when we’re used to constant stimulus, but just being with that is a fine practice in itself. In all practices like yoga where liberation, coming to our true nature, dropping beneath the ego and connecting with a larger consciousness are the focus, there is an emphasis on letting go of the habit to fill every space. Openness, open-mindedness, exploration and expanse are the qualities
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l When we open up one place in the body, another naturally contracts to create that room. In a forward bend, space in the back body is found from constricting the front and vice versa for back bends. With the more obvious physical opening, we can easily breathe into that, but taking our attention to compressed areas and how they may be restricting the full flow of breath is where the most interesting enquiry can be found. l When we hold positions or feel deep sensations, our whole being can curl and restrict in towards them. It is natural for muscles to constrict when we first enter a pose as they are protecting us from over-stretching and injury. But after we notice this first supportive tension, we have the choice to breathe in to release and yield. We can take stress habits in and harden within a pose or find spaciousness in the breath that diffuses out and helps it feel playful, alive and with the possibility to unfold. l We also create binds in yoga for the very purpose of exploring space. Using a hand hold, gesture or bind with a belt creates a circuit or containment in which we can feel metaphysical and energetic space made even within limitation. l Stress is by nature contracting, constricting and hardening. Our yoga practice is a place to counter the often claustrophobic nature of modern living. Experiencing the freedom and possibility of space can help us reconnect with our true essence and be drawn to finding that in everyday life.
COMMENCE Working with ritual and intention for the new year. By Leah Bracknell
o a new year heralds. For many people, waking up on January 1 may be a slightly painful experience if New Year’s festivities have been celebrated. Christmas is over, gifts exchanged and discarded, friends and family have gathered and gone, and now, a few pounds heavier and a lot of pounds poorer, the prospect of climbing back into the saddle and returning to the daily grind of work and routine during the dark, cold months is a decidedly unappealing prospect for many. While we identify January 1 as an opportunity to create change in our lives, and almost half of us will undertake some new year’s resolution, most will unfortunately give up before the month is out, leaving us back where we started, harbouring a compounded sense of failure, and still burdened by the habits and baggage that we long to discard. So, as the earth commences its 365 day orbit around the sun, we can harness the energy of this magically potent new cycle to turn over a new leaf and co-create a new chapter in our story that will cultivate lasting change and healing transformation. The truth is, that profound and enduring change is not easily won, but takes determination, courage, and the resolve to meet the struggle head on and keep going even when we falter. Like our relationship with yoga, it is not merely about the destination but the journey; the path will wind, it will be steep, we will encounter obstacles along the way, we will get lost, but like all great adventures there
An alternative New Year’s Eve
Preparation is key. Not merely practically, but physically and mentally. Without good foundations, despite the best will, the objective will be harder to achieve. To build a house you need good foundations to provide stability; to run a marathon you train, to paint a picture you stretch the canvas, prepare the paints and clean the brushes. So to create our own work of art, that is our life, to construct our own future brick-by-brick, we need to sow the seeds of intention in a well cultivated soil and invest in preparation if we are to reap success. PURIFICATION AND CLEANSING While everyone is stocking up with bubbly and nibbles, why not have a good clear out. Perform it with the attitude of investment in your intention. Cleansing our personal environment, de-cluttering, getting rid of what we no longer need acts as a metaphor for the things we wish to shed in our lives, habits, limiting beliefs, unhealthy relationships etc. This is a traditional ritual performed around the world – it releases stale, stagnant and negative energy and symbolises our desire to cleanse ourselves of old baggage: grievances, debts, in order to enter the new year unburdened by the stories of yesterday. This is Sauca – the first of the niyamas practically applied. For personal cleansing undertake a fast or detox for at least 24 hours beforehand. Fasting before ceremony not only cleanses the system of toxins, it sharpens senses and
will be so much to see along the way, so much to learn and so much to gain. So perhaps a new approach is due – put aside thoughts of a list of resolutions: if it hasn’t worked before, is it likely to work this time? Imagine instead that you are undertaking a pilgrimage, a sacred and spiritual journey, and embark upon an undertaking which is not merely goal oriented, but one of growth and self-discovery. At the heart of your quest, yoga and ritual is your ballast. Your mat is your safe and sacred space, the boat on which you will sail, your temple. Your practice is your daily ceremony to reconnect to your intentions, to seek support, your offering to spirit, indeed the place where you call upon spirit to work with you and strengthen your resolve. A union, a partnership with the divine and with the universe to co-create your destiny. So if noisy gatherings, fireworks, hugging strangers and choruses of auld lang syne are not your thing, why not ring in the new year with your own unique ceremony invested with meaningful ritual and intentions to serve you in the coming months. Ceremony is at the heart of what it means to be human. And performing ceremony elevates our actions beyond the everyday and mundane. It is the song of our hearts calling to spirit. Following are some suggestions for an alternative New Year’s Eve experience, to inspire you and ignite the spark for powerful change and healing. Bon voyage and Happy New Year. creates the space and energy conducive to change. Even abstaining from, for example, alcohol/sugar/ nicotine for 24 hours contains within it the element of sacrifice; sacrifices were and are used to attract the attention of the gods or spirit as a gesture of appeasement, and shows a commitment to the impending ritual. SACRED SPACE Create an altar as a focal point for your intentions, prayers and practice. INTENTION For some, the intention may be clear, but for those who are unsure of what you want, other than you want things to change, setting the correct intention is crucial. Clarity of purpose needs to be established. Spend some time considering your intention. Meditate upon the question: ”What do I want.” Or “What do I need to release?” Alternatively, before you go to sleep, ask your dreams to show you what it is your spirit truly needs. The answer will reveal itself to you, perhaps when you least expect it. Write down your intention and place it on your altar or sacred space. AFFIRMATION Create a mantra, a sankalpa, to hold in your heart whenever you need strength.
om spirit Let the ceremony commence
Preparations in place, here are some rituals that you might like to weave into your alternative new yearâ€™s eve ceremony. WATER RITUAL Before you begin, you might enjoy a ritual cleanse/shower . You may like to create your own scrub from salt, oil and essential fragrance. Allow the waters to cleanse you, like a baptism. Let the experience be a ritual of release and letting go, focus on what you wish to cleanse and purify from your life. Visualise anything that no longer serves being scrubbed away, and flowing down the drain and out to sea. RIBBON OF INTENTION You will need: n A piece of string or ribbon. You might like to chose a colour that symbolises a chakra with which you feel a connection or you feel called to work with. 1 For each positive intention or prayer you wish to manifest, say a prayer or intention as you tie a knot in the ribbon. As many as you wish. 2 Then tie the ribbon around your left wrist, closest to your heart. 3 Whenever you feel challenged, rub it between your fingers, reconnect with the energy and strength of will you placed there, you will be reminded of your intentions and resolve.
PRAYER TIES RITUAL Making a prayer tie is a Native American practice as an intention too for prayer and healing. The process of the tie is a meditative practice.
FIRE RITUAL. Write a list of what you want to release and burn it for good luck. Fire acts as a messenger and also a means of purification and cleansing. It is the spark that ignites the flame of new beginnings.
You will need: n A length of string. n P ieces of red cloth, 4x4 inches, traditionally four would be used to represent the four directions and elements, but you may be called to use only one, or maybe several. n L oose tobacco, corn, coins, rice, nuts to act as an offering and conduit for your prayers. 1 Hold your offering in the palm of your left hand (the one closest to your heart) and speak your prayer/intention into the offering. One bundle per prayer. 2 Place the offering at the centre of the cloth, fold the opposite corners together, so that the two points meet, secure with the string. 3 Use one length of string, adding each bundle to it. The continuous string represents the flow of energy from the beginning to the end of your prayer. 4 Releasing the prayers â€“ traditionally they are offered back to nature and the elements, so you could attach your string of prayers to a tree for the wind. Each time you see the breeze dancing with the tie, you might feel spirit working with you, and be reminded of the prayers you set. Or release them to the fire, and let it release the prayers through the flames and smoke.
MIDNIGHT CHIMES Decide how you wish to honour the moment of midnight, when the old year is released and the new begins. Tune into that sacred energy. Meditate or chant the sacred mantra Om, whatever feels right to you. Join hands with loved ones to share the start of the journey and honour your prayers. Hold a positive attitude in your heart, one of gratitude and love, so that you step into the new year with awareness and a lightness of being.
Asana as ally, guardian and teacher
Each day visit your altar, or mat to reconnect with your intention. Make an offering whenever you need and use your practice as prayer, inviting the postures to be your allies, guardians and teachers. Witness yourself with the eye of compassion and loving kindness â€“ metta. Practice ahimsa â€“ try not to judge yourself too harshly or criticise yourself if you falter. These may be old stories/samskaras and are not who you really are. Accept setbacks as the lessons that they truly are, challenges are there to test us and to teach us to grow. BALASANA: To plant the seeds of your intention, to nurture and be compassionate towards yourself, to reconnect with the wonder of life. BHUJANGASANA: To mark rebirth and renewal. To feel connection with the earth, her life sustaining properties, stability, grounding. For self-acceptance.
MOUNTAIN: To feel where heaven and earth meet within you, both groundedness and aspiration in one posture. To acknowledge the arduous climb to the summit of your goal. For balance. A place for contemplation and mental retreat, as aspirants traditionally take themselves to the mountains for quiet reflection, so can you. To be nearer to heaven/god/spirit. For perspective, imagine yourself on the summit surveying the view. HALASANA: To remember that we reap what we sow. So keep on keeping on. Plough on, dig deep and tend the crop for an abundant yield. WARRIOR: For courage. Strength. Fearlessness. Determination. SAVASANA: For restoration. For release. For surrender.
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Think outside the box Home delivery boxes: a great way to your five-a-day
ife’s busy enough as it is, so why waste time traipsing off down the supermarket every other day? You could spend that time doing an extra hour of yoga on the mat. With a bit of thought it’s easy to order your groceries online and get them delivered straight to your door, even if you live in some outlying place overlooking the sea or high up in the hills (you lucky thing!). But think outside the box: you don’t have to rely on the usual high street supermarkets. If you do, your choices for organic foods will probably be very limited and your money will be feeding the profits of big corporates and institutional investors. There are plenty of niche alternatives these days that provide excellent service and value for money, with a higher commitment to fairer farming and healthy, organic produce. Online home delivery grocery stores like Abel & Cole and Riverford are both great alternatives to the well known supermarkets, offering high quality products with a
healthier slant. These services are typically based on ordering regular fruit and veg boxes, but both offer pretty much everything else you could want from a mainstream store too - from walnuts to wine, and everything else in-between. Others will design recipes (The Mindful Chef, Gousto) and package the exact ingredients for you to prepare yourself at home. It takes the pain out of searching for a whole list of ingredients on the supermarket shelves to follow exquisite recipes. It’s also an ideal way to grow your cooking repertoire and impress your friends. Everything you need to cook delicious recipes, delivered straight to your door.
What’s the point
While a lot of people shop out of convenience, yoga enthusiasts and health fans know that it’s always worth tracking down better quality suppliers. That way you can really trust what you’re putting into your body. It’s all very well preparing green peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes for your evening meal, but what if
they’ve been grown in fields where pesticide use is the norm to improve crop yield? Shopping organic is always better for your body, even where there’s a premium to pay. That’s when it pays to switch to better stores offering better quality foods. And, if you’ve grown up on processed food, then the first time you start feasting on ‘real’ food - raw foods, organic produce, making sure you’re always getting your five-a-day (or more) – can be overwhelming. Anyone who’s attended a raw foods workshop and walked out like they’ve been on an ayahuasca journey will know the feeling. Real foods deliver more goodness, more vitality and more health benefits than processed, or chemically grown alternatives. So if you’re thinking about upgrading your diet this year, then it matters where you get your food and drink from, not just what you are choosing to consume. Picking from the high quality home delivery companies on the market nowadays means there’s no reason to rely on second rate choices in the mass market superstores.
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Check this out Abel & Cole Superb Souping Box - £14.50 Get all your soup-er powers with Abel & Cole’s Superb Souping Box. This season’s soups are tastier than ever and guided by an expert nutritionist. Full of veg, spices and herbs to make three delicious soups each week. You’ll make up around a litre of soup per recipe, so that’s about 6-9 servings a week, depending on the size of your bowl.
THREE ALTERNATIVE YOGA- FRIENDLY ONLINE GROCERS THAT WILL DELIVER STRAIGHT TO YOUR DOOR ABEL & COLE High quality organic ingredients, delivered straight to your door. Brilliant eating by the box, from the staple fruit and veg boxes that you can tailor to be full of things you love, to ethically sourced meat, bread, milk and more. And they’ll give you a great recipe book too. abelandcole.co.uk
Recipe boxes with results No pastas, no white rice, no bread
No traipsing around the supermarket Fresh ingredients delivered to your door Healthy lean recipes changing weekly
RIVERFORD Great commitment to organic farming and a fair deal for farmers, Riverford has a genuine and heartfelt philosophy that makes them instantly more appealing than the high street supermarkets. They also offer a fab cook book with healthy recipes, ideas and inspiration. Absolutely everything they grow, make and sell is 100% organic. You can’s say fairer than that. riverford.co.uk ORGANIC DELIVERY COMPANY Delicious organic (the clue’s in the name!) foods delivered to your doorstep with no minimum spend (free delivery if you spend £13.95). The Organic Delivery Company is committed to making food as sustainable and ethical as possible, so you can learn about the farmers that grew what’s in your veg box. Fully certified by The Soil Association. organicdeliverycompany.co.uk
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Everyone loves a healthy juice, but why make it yourself when someone will do it for you?
e’ve all dabbled with our own healthy smoothies and juices (and if you haven’t, now’s a great time to start!) but keeping it going requires preparation, planning and commitment. Getting fresh produce into the house, when you need it, and then actually taking the time to pulverise it in the mornings can be a tall order, especially if you’ve got a busy life going on in the background (bosses don’t appreciate lateness excuses like “sorry, but I couldn’t find the goji berries this morning”). So we thought we’d check out some of the easy options - instead of making it, just buy it instead. We hooked up with the nice folks at Plenish for a mini juice cleanse. The London-based firm offers a range of low sugar, mainly vegetable-based drinks that are available online and in popular health stores like Whole Foods. It’s a simple way to get your 5-a-day (or 25-a-day, depending on how committed you are), or for a complete nre year detox. The organic, cold pressed juices can be taken on their own or as part of a bigger cleanse programme. Inside, you’ll find
all the wonder ingredients, from kale to spinach, plus super spices like ginger. “For us, cleansing is primarily about health gain,” says founder Kara Rosen, “while weight loss, glowing skin and bright eyes are certainly nice side effects.” Here’s what OM editor Martin D. Clark discovered after a week on the Plenish path: “These babies pack a powerful vitality punch. Even after the first one - the Boost, made up of 75% vegetables and with 1kg of organic
produce packed inside (spinach, kale, parsley, romaine, cucumber, pear, lemon, ginger) - I felt invigorated, and with renewed energy and focus. Some of the drinks taste better than others, but you know they’re all doing you good, so just roll with it. After a week, I felt amazing; Plenish would make a great addition to any yoga kit bag.” Discover the world of Plenish juices at: plenishcleanse.com
On the high street
OTHER POPULAR HEALTHY JUICES AND SMOOTHIES IN A STORE NEAR YOU: PRÊT A MANGER The popular sandwich shop recently launched its own veg smoothies. The Green Goddess (apple, cucumber, celery, spinach, lime, ginger) is great if you didn’t get the chance to make your own in the morning. pret.com INNOCENT Innocent’s fruit smoothies have been around for years and can be found in most supermarkets. Now there’s a range of veg options such as Easy Greens (apple, cucumber, celery, spinach). innocentdrinks.co.uk
Eat brilliantly With an organic Superb Souping Box delivered to your door. They contain everything you need, the veg, the herbs, spices and a recipe card, to create three homemade nutrition-rich soups for 2 people.
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Do it yourself
Mindful eating and cooking…without the shopping
indful eating is something we all need to remember, especially when you get home from the office, tired, exhausted and grumpy. It’s easy to eat the wrong thing if you’re in a hurry or you’re pushed for time, but with a little thought and planning you can keep on track and make your yoga teacher proud. That’s where home delivery services really come into their own. But what
if you’re trying to put together a nice, balanced meal and you’re missing a few key ingredients. Luckily, a few clever people have already thought of that. Delivery services that provide the exact ingredients, and in the right quantities, are now available to take the stresses out of shopping and last minute cooking.
The Mindful Chef (mindfulchef.com) offers a healthy recipe kit delivery
LUCKILY, CLEVER PEOPLE HAVE THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING TO HELP THE TIME POOR EAT WELL ON THE GO GRAZE If you’re a snack fiend then you’ll probably love graze healthy snack boxes filled with nuts, seeds and other goodies to keep you going throughout the day. Super healthy options like Super Kale & Edame alongside treats such as Summer Almond Flapjacks and The Graze Brownie. Just tell the graze folks what you fancy, they’ll pick a box for you and then send it straight to your home or work. Easy. graze.com
service, packed with lean and sustainably sourced ingredients. It was launched last April to create fast, fresh and nutritious meals for the timedeprived and health conscious (that’s us!). Their recipe kits contain all the fresh ingredients to make three meals, with just 15-25 minute prep-to-plate times. Talented professional chefs have created vibrant seasonal recipes with nutrientdense organic British vegetables, high welfare meat and sustainably caught fish. Catering for one or two people, it’s great for both couples and singletons, plus you’ll get recipe cards included with each box that are easy to follow. The kits cost £24 for one person, and £42 for two people for three meals, with delivery soon to be nationwide. Here’s what OM’s advertising manager, Sara Stant says: “Take your cooking to new heights: signature veggie recipes include a rich Beetroot spaghetti with meatball and tomato ragu. Fast, reliable delivery service and great, fresh food. I’ll definitley be back for more.”
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eatdrinkyoga Healthy eating goodies
Just Bee Drinks
A flavoured honey drink created by friends (Joe and Andy from Manchester) and made by bees. Spring water infused with honey and other good, all natural things. Plus 10% of profits go to charity partners including Friends of the Honey Bee. £1.69 justbeedrinks.co.uk
Quality Saffron Infused Tea
New to the UK, a delicious range of organic and non organic teas, each with the unique added ingredient of Saffron, the golden spice of Greece. Each of the seven delicious flavours is carefully blended with natural herbs, fruits and spices, rich in vitamins and minerals. £3.49 per box greeksaffron.co.uk
Buko Organic Coconut Water
Naturally isotonic and great for rehydration, coconut water is a popular choice among the yoga community these days. From organic, GMO free farms in the Philippines (Buko means a young green coconut in Filipino), all sales support rain forests charity Cuipo. £1.99 organicbuko.com
BodyMe Cacao Powder & Nibs
Certified organic and cultivated without pesticides or other chemicals and never roasted (which can reduce nutritional properties and antioxidant levels). Mix with desserts, breakfasts, smoothies, yoghurts for a great chocolatey treat anytime of day. £3.99 for 50g bodyme.co.uk
Berrywhite Sparkling Drinks
The new sparkling drinks range from Berrywhite. Made with super fruits and healthy extracts, and blended with spring water. Great flavour combinations too such as Cranberry & Guava, Peach & Goji Berry and Pomegranate & Blueberry. Sales also support the Berrywhite Foundation (berrywhitefoundation.org) which provides clean water and healthcare in Africa. £1.59 berrywhite.com
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Crunch Time Real food snack attacks... anywhere, anytime
Noodle Kilner Jar Salad Serves 1 Preparation time: 10 minutes
Ingredients For • • • • • • For • • • • • •
the dressing: 1 tbsp peanut butter 2 tsp soy sauce 2 tsp Sesame oil ½ tsp chilli flakes 1 tsp rice wine vinegar Water the salad: 100g (½ cup) fresh egg or udon noodles 1 stick of celery, sliced 4 radishes, sliced into wedges Large handful of frozen soya beans 3 leaves of Chinese leaf lettuce, finely shredded 1 spring onion, sliced
In a bowl whisk all the dressing ingredients with a splash of water until smooth. Pour into the bottom of the jar. Defrost the soya beans in boiling water then drain. 2. Layer the noodles on top of the dressing, then the celery and radish, then soya beans and top with the crunchy spring onions and Chinese leaf lettuce. 3. To serve, tip everything into a bowl and give a good stir.
Soya beans can be found in the freezer section of most supermarkets. The key to jar salads is the order they are put into the jar. Put the dressing in the bottom and then layer firmer vegetables at the bottom, the protein in the middle and the leafy greens at the top so they don’t get wet.
Celery, Spinach and Cucumber Juice Serves: 1 Preparation time: 5 minutes each
Ingredients • • • • • •
1 cucumber 5 sticks of celery 2 apples 1 bag Fresh & Naked baby spinach leaves 1 lime 1 tsp honey
Chop the cucumber, celery and apple into chunks. Put everything through a juicer then chill in the fridge. Stir well before serving.
Recipes from www.lovethecrunch.com
Beetroot superfood truffles Serves: 12 Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 1hr chilling
Ingredients • • • • • • •
Generous dash of black pepper 1 large ready cooked (vacuum pack) beetroot 1 large ripe avocado, peeled ¼ tsp vanilla extract 3 tbsp pure maple syrup 100g (¼ cup) unsweetened cacao powder plus extra for dusting Desiccated coconut for dusting
Put the beetroot, avocado, vanilla extract, maple syrup and half of the cacao powder into a blender or food processor. Process until well combined. 2. Add the remaining cacao powder to the blender and again process until well combined. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. 3. Once chilled, scoop tablespoon-sized portions of the mixture. Roll in your palms to form balls – the mixture will be slightly sticky but should form balls easily. 4. Put some extra cacao powder and desiccated coconut in a plate and roll the chocolate truffles around in one or the other to coat.
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om living Nutrition Zone:
Get ready for rejuvenation Tap into the healing powers of herbs to commence the year on a healthy high. By Sebastian Pole
t is the start of a new year - I want to feel great; you want to feel great - but life is so much more difficult when we don’t feel our best. The best way to be healthy, I have found, is to be constantly renewing and replenishing our health. This is called rejuvenation. In ayurveda, it is known as rasayana or ‘that which extends the essence of life’ – it hastens recovery from disease, it improves your mind and intellect and promotes longevity whilst also delaying ageing. We need to be consistently rejuvenating because the opposite of this is to forever be operating under par. To rejuvenate means to be reborn.
As the majority of health imbalances come from some sort of deficiency or weakness, when you get run down this invariably affects your immunity. When you have some ‘deficiency’ you can feel under par, tired, stressed or look ‘washed out’. It’s the natural result of living a busy life where you give out more than you get back. It happens to all of us, but the trick is knowing how to replenish. In essence, you need to reverse this process of decline with regular top-ups that help you to rejuvenate. This can be a holiday, a yoga class, a massage or nourishing time with friends and family. You can also optimise your rejuvenation on a daily basis by regulating your lifestyle, or
through diet and herbs. Just imagine feeling full of energy, bursting with vitality, having bright eyes, clear skin, excellent digestion, a quick healing response, healthy desires and being full of optimism. Or imagine the opposite… it’s a bit bleak. Rejuvenation is a way to live the true you. My favourite at-my-fingertips ways to rejuvenate in the new year are through yoga, breathing and herbs. A colourful diet, massage and being in love, are also extremely rejuvenating.
At its heart, yoga is the epitome of
om living THE GREATEST REJUVENATING HERBS (…AND HOW TO USE THEM)
ASHWAGANDHA (WITHANIA SOMNIFERA): a slightly warming and deeply nourishing vata balancing herb that gently rebuilds strength. Whenever there is a component of stress causing depletion then I will consider using Ashwagandha. I live on it. It is very helpful for assisting deep sleep and calming nervous vata. I take it twice a day, often with a cup of ginger tea. Its ability to replenish the blood, enhance nutrients and build bone strength make it indispensable in disorders of degeneration and ageing. Its affinity for the adrenal, endocrine and nervous systems point to its use in any imbalances affecting our energy or vitality. It can be a great help in seasonal health conditions, as its strengthening properties and vata-kapha reducing energy strengthens the chest. I think Ashwagandha is the perfect herb for the 21st century as it both calms and energises. And this is how it rejuvenates. It builds whilst also helping us to adapt to the stresses of everyday living. TULSI OR HOLY BASIL (OCIMUM TENUIFLORUM): this leafy member of the mint family has a deliciously aromatic warmth that lifts the life-force to the exterior. This dispersing action makes it very useful for protecting from seasonal malaise as it reduces damp kapha and cold vata. I consider it my ‘cheat’ herb (i.e. regardless of energetic pattern) for any chills and shivers. When used as a hot infusion it increases circulation, helps digestion and increases the digestive fire. Its essential oils and ursolic acid content is associated with its ability to modulate inflammation, reduce infections and help regulate a healthy cell cycle. Its a favourite of yoga enthusiasts for its ability to raise the spirits and lift your mood. Tulsi is deeply nourishing.
rejuvenation as it uses the body and breath to seek peace of mind and fullness of spirit. As you practice it can bring you a greater awareness of your energy levels, your stress levels, how you breathe and how your digestion works. There are multiple varieties of yoga to follow today. I’ve even heard it said that there are as many types of yoga as there are yoga teachers. Whatever style you choose to practice, experiment until you find a style and a teacher that suits you best. The insights and inner connection that yoga have brought me over the last 20 years are integral with my thoughts about health, sustainability, ecology and what the perfect cup of tea is. I usually do yoga in
TURMERIC (CURCUMA LONGA): the super spice par excellence; pungent, bitter and astringent, it is slightly heating and drying. High in flavonoids and with over 6,000 clinical studies attesting to its ability to protect and nourish the body it prevents ageing, improves circulation, reduces inflammation, heals wounds and protects the liver and bowels. This golden yellow root is full of the potent flavonoid curcumin and other yellow pigments that act as cellular protectives and systemic rejuvenatives. It has been used in ayurveda for over 2,000 years to nourish the joints, digestion, liver, heart, brain and skin, and has now gained a reputation as one of nature’s most potent remedies for many of today’s health challenges. CHYWANAPRASH: used to help with all the facets of rejuvenation; helping recovery from disease, improving mental clarity, improving fertility, prolonging life and delaying ageing, and helpful for fatigue and seasonal health. It is high in anti-oxidants, with one serving of organic chywanaprash giving you 35% of your daily antioxidant requirements (equivalent to two servings of fruit and vegetables). Take a teaspoon twice a day throughout the winter. GOLDEN PRESERVE: based on ayurveda’s famous chywanaprash, its main ingredient is Amla fruit, also known as Indian Gooseberry. Classically mixed with about 35 other ingredients, including ashwagandha, shatavari, the roots of ten trees, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and triphala, it is cooked into a paste that is blended with honey, sesame oil and jaggery. Jaggery is concentrated sugarcane juice that has remarkable nutritional properties.
om living the morning after drinking some Revitalise tea that is made with cinnamon, ginger, elderflowers, orange peel and liquorice These all nourish your digestive fire and kick-start your system. I’ll then stretch, pull some postures and do some breathing. It’s a wonderful way to start my day grounded and refreshed before I start my work.
Using the breath
So, after a good cup of tea, what next? Surely a big deep breath. Breathing is quite simply one of the best practices to learn to stay healthy. It’s remarkable that we so easily forget something so precious but as we get older we can breathe more irregularly and this can imbalance our health. Regular breathing exercises help to bring prana into the system and regulate the flow of vitality throughout your entire being. Prana is yoga speak for
a subtle vital energy pervading all of life, also called the life-force. Learning how to breathe properly empowers us to be able to personally adjust how we feel and think.
After some good breathing, some good herbs. Herbs are an essential part of our diet and are finding new respect throughout our world as we recognise their central role in our planetary and personal vitality. Think of rejuvenating herbs as special micro-nutrients or tonics for supporting your wellness. Herbs like ginseng, ashwagandha and shatavari are world famous rejuvenators. An amazing feature of most rejuvenating herbs is their ability to help us adapt to stress, hence many of them are known as adaptogens. They often grow in extreme climates where they acquire the
TAKE TIME FOR TEA
energy to adjust to a stressful environment. Their excellence manifests from their nonspecific nature. Adaptogens are proficient generalists; they perform multiple actions on diverse organ and tissue systems at the same time. Sometimes they nudge us, sometimes they push us, but they always support us. And finally, perhaps our greatest rejuvenating friend is letting our hair down and peeling with laughter. There is a great Hindi adage that goes: ‘There is medicine for 100 problems, but laughter is my best healing friend!’
Sebastian Pole is an ayurvedic practitioner, qualified yoga therapist, and co-founder and Master Herbsmith of Pukka Herbs. For more information about the wonders of organic herbs visit: pukkaherbs.com
Pukka Vitalise is the most complex and colourful of Pukka’s tea blends. I dreamt it up late one night looking up at the starry sky when I was on a farm in the jungles of India. For a while, I had been mulling over how to eat healthily when I was too busy to eat consistently well or travelling too much to eat what I wanted to stay on effervescent form. I wanted to make something that tasted good as well as bring some concentrated nourishment. It had to be a blend of art and science so I got dreaming; the spectrum of colours coming from lots of different growing terrains with all the parts of plants represented in a potent nutritious brew; I wanted a rainbow of red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue from fruits, flowers, seeds, leaves, roots, barks, mushrooms and algae coming from plants growing in the sea, fresh-water, forests, gardens, jungles and farms. I thought this would capture enough of the planet’s plant power to help me keep strong and full of energy. I wanted to harness as much of the wonder of nature’s vitality as I could squeeze in using some state-of-the art herbal technology; cold-juicing, freeze drying, holistic extraction and natural vitamin distillation. This would bring the best of all worlds, tradition and scientific progress, nutrition and energetic benefits, to keep me on the road of vitality. Vitalise is a vibrant nutritional blend containing 30 organic ingredients including concentrated extracts from 10 herbs and spices, seven fruits, three seaweeds, two vegetables, two mushrooms, two freshwater plants, one grass juice and magical flower pollen. It contains some of nature’s finest energising plants that help your body to thrive by encouraging regeneration and rebuilding. It has been created to improve the quality of your tissues, the strength of your organs and the vibrancy of your energy.
books The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook Lois A. Leonhardi Robert Rose (robertrose.ca) $24.94 Would you like to have more happiness and balance in your life? The solution could be as simple as modifying your food choices so that theyâ€™re in sync with your unique constitution, or dosha. This easy-to-follow holistic approach to cooking addresses wellness, happiness and balance via the time-honoured principles of ayurveda. Over 350 pages of recipes, colour photos and information to get you back to your best. Includes advice on stocking your pantry, kitchen essentials and the basic principles of ayurvedic food combination. Great for anyone looking to improve their regular diet or to understand ayurvedic practices in more detail.
Further reading: Bhakti Flow Yoga
Rusty Wells, Shambala (shambhala.com) $22.95 Popular San Francisco teacher Rusty Wells brings all his warmth and enthusiasm to this guide to Bhakti Flow Yoga, a synthesis of Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion) and Vinyasa Flow. With information on yoga in general and Bhakti Flow in particular, inside there are detailed pose descriptions alongside the physical and spiritual considerations for each move, plus sample sequences. Illustrated in black & white.
George Dieter, Exisle Publishing (exislepublishing.com) ÂŁ12.95 We all too often look for happiness and contentment via relationships, success and recognition - all things that lie outside ourselves. In I-Power, psychologist George Dieter explains why this approach is actually at the heart of why we end up experiencing unhappiness and discontent. Includes tools to handle troublesome situations in relationships, whether personal or business, and rise above conditions such as anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
om family Concious Parenting
THE ART OF
RELAXATION The constant demand on children is real and society has lost touch with the natural order of living, learning and loving. Itâ€™s time to put things straight. By Siri Arti
n todayâ€™s fast-paced world, where time never stands still, and overstimulation is rife, a moment of stillness can act as a golden elixir to a child. Can something as simple as stillness be alchemical? It most certainly can. The obvious changes observed when teaching relaxation techniques to children and teenagers is proof that it is highly beneficial. Alchemy is the quest to turn copper into gold or to prevent human bodies from becoming old. When a body
that is wound too tight learns the art of relaxation, the tightness is released and the body reopens to its natural ebb and flow. The tightness that the body habitually holds onto is an effective ageing agent. Learning to remove it encourages youth and vitality to return. The posture practice of a yoga class works on a childâ€™s physical body. It builds strength, aids flexibility, co-ordination and balance, and also prepares the child for stillness. As the yoga postures can be challenging, they encourage the child to move deeper into the body. This brings about increased body awareness with a willingness to become curious about how their body works. The bulk of the class is to work organically with the body. Once the child has stretched and bent, twisted and turned, moved forward, backward, sideways and even upside down, the body reaches a point where it is finally ready to let go. It is at this moment that the relaxation is introduced.
om family Leading children into relaxation
Children have to learn the art of relaxation. It is a skill, but once learned, it becomes easy to reach this softer state, and that is when the magic happens. Young children might want to wriggle and giggle, and older children and teenagers can feel anxious or vulnerable as they settle into doing nothing. Both young and older children benefit from silence. When leading them into relaxation, lower your voice, speaking gently as you guide them slowly into the journey. Be mindful as you allow the relaxation to unfold naturally, never force them into the space, they will go when they are ready.
Some relaxation methods:
n Use simple uplifting and calming music to lead them into relaxation. The music gives them something to focus on and will elevate their mood, leaving them feeling rested and happy. n Use guided visualisations or simple stories to relax and elevate. Call attention to colours and pictures that will capture their imagination. Keep it simple, calm and real to avoid overstimulation. n Yoga Nidra is a wonderful gift for children. By following these simple suggestions, you will take them into a deep relaxation. Squeeze and release all body parts until the body is relaxed and ready to follow instructions for the rotation of
consciousness. Bring awareness to each part of the body in order to let go and relax. Bring awareness to the breath and connect the breath with the body in an imaginative way. Use a short and uplifting visualisation to further the relaxation and surrender the mind and body.
Coming out of relaxation
This is done slowly to protect the experience rather than disturb the peace that has been cultivated. With a low voice, growing steadily stronger, invite them to wake up, bringing them into a new moment. An example: “Very good, now take a deep slow breath into your body. Moving very slowly and carefully, begin to wriggle your fingers and toes. Make circles with your hands and feet in one direction and then the other. Stretch your arms up above your head, and point your toes, taking a deep breath in and out. Rub the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet together like a cricket. Hug your knees to your chest and rock from side to side. Now bring your head towards your knees as you rock back and forth a few times and then rock yourself up into a sitting position. You have now finished your relaxation, well done!” Praise them and sometimes leave a little treat on their mats to positively reinforce their efforts.
Siri Arti is the creator of Starchild Yoga (starchildyoga.org)
BENEFITS OF RELAXATION n n n n n n
Removes fatigue Removes restlessness, agitation and stress Increases concentration and awareness Rejuvenates and energises Releases rigidity in the muscles and blood flow Centres emotional energy
n T he art of relaxation is not reserved for adults only. It would change a child’s experience of life if school teachers adopted it as a classroom technique. n M ay we continue to know what is right for children and offer them the tools to enable them to grow and blossom into the shining stars they were born to be. n R elaxation for children will help bring about a peaceful change in the world, one beautiful child at a time.
Yoga girls can!
An innovative project backed by Sport England is offering free yoga classes for young women across the west of England. Charlotta Martinus tells the story
Charlotta Martinus is the founder of TeenYoga (teen yoga.co.uk)
here is a pink tent popping up around the Bristol and Bath areas, mostly on university and further education campuses. Peeling back the pink curtain, the womb-like interior reveals eight yoga mats and a yoga teacher who is catering for the newbies dropping in to the tent as they pass by, curious and shy. When the TeenYoga Foundation approached Sport England with the idea of free yoga for young women, This Girl Can campaign jumped on board together with Marks and Spencer to support the endeavour, realising the importance of yoga as a tool to enhance self esteem and fitness levels. The TeenYoga Foundation is a new charity supporting young people through yoga. Its main activities are to raise money for research in the impact of yoga on young people’s mental and physical health as well as propagate information about the impact of yoga to teachers and schools across the world but mostly focused in the UK. This Girl Can was a recent campaign backed by the National Lottery and Sport England that started to support women who wanted to get back into sports. Recent studies show that 2 million more men than women do sports in the UK, and that 75% of the women that are not active, would like to be doing some kind of sport or physical activity but felt they couldn’t, either as they felt judged by men or because they were fed up with the competitive atmosphere. There is a specific drop in interest in sport among women between the ages of 16 and 25. As yoga is completely non-competitive and enhances feelings of collaboration, compassion and kindness, it fitted the bill completely. With these partners on board, Sport England decided to invest £50,000 in the project, allowing for free yoga sessions to be delivered from September to March, sometimes five times a day, five days a week in several different venues including Bath University, Bath Spa University and the University of West of England, to name a few. In order to encourage the young women to return, they are given a USB of a 90 minute yoga class that they can follow after the third session and their very own yoga mat after six sessions.
The women have said that the yoga has given them the opportunity to relax between lectures and they have noticed that they are more focused and generally feel better in themselves.
“I was dragged along by my friend. Never been to yoga before, now I come every day, it’s so good for my studies and my mind as well as my body,” said Lisa from the University of West of England in Bristol. Bath University student Sylvia said: “I did yoga at school and loved it so when I saw the tent, I thought ‘yay’ and popped in; it’s the only exercise I am doing at the moment and it really helps me.” The yoga teachers report that there have been a few male lecturers complaining about sexism, suggesting that it is unfair that women should get the free classes. TeenYoga foundation respond that men are in fact allowed in the classes although some women prefer to come to an all female environment. The facts from recent research seem to indicate, however, that women are finding themselves more judged and less able or willing to participate in sports than ever before and this in itself needs to be addressed and points at a much more pernicious inequality. Yoga Girls Can attempts to address this inequality first before free yoga classes for men are rolled out.
Sport England and TeenYoga Foundation are currently looking at how to roll this innovative project out to the rest of the UK as they study the figures, indicating that the free classes have reached as many as 500 young women across the West of England. There are another four venues waiting for the pop up yurt to arrive and bliss out their students in the next few months. It means the project will probably have introduced yoga to around 1,000 women by the end. The research that the TeenYoga Foundation has collated for its annual conference on the impact of yoga on education and wellbeing shows that (as most of us know) yoga enhances self-esteem, self care, better relationships and optimal mental health. Not only then is yoga bringing young women back into sport, but it is also fostering the mindset that yoga girls can, in equal measure, be well, be happy, be successful and enjoy themselves - without competition, and in collaboration with their sisters.
Yoga España! 2 - 9 April ‘16
Train as a TeenYoga teacher on this special annual sunlit retreat, young people will join us in a Spanish mountain farmhouse. £900 incl accom and all meals teenyoga.co.uk/courses/spain Phone or email to book:
firstname.lastname@example.org 01761 470 658
“This is a life-changing course. If you have any interest in helping the youth of today become balanced adults of tomorrow, do this course!” Samantha Hare, Met. Police
Life & loves of a yoga teacher
OM writer Lesley Dawn quizzes yoga teachers up and down the country to reveal their life and loves
Name: Age: Location: Training:
Alice Chutter 33 Dorchester and Bridport, Dorset Vinyasa Teacher Training, 2013; Ashtanga Yoga Institute, India, 2015 Specialism: Combined Vinyasa flow and Ashtanga
Describe yourself as a colour A nice, shiny yellow. On grey days here in England I think you need to make your own sunshine. Keeping your heart open in the winter when it is so tempting to turn inwards and to close down, it’s important that your mind focuses on being happy and bright. Best part of the day I quite like dusk, the transition from day to night – I naturally become more tranquil and look forward to doing my own yoga practice at home. Sometimes I go on to teach again in the evening having done some morning and afternoon sessions, so dusk is a bit of a breathing space for me which I value. Favourite meal I really love Indian food, so spending a month there was just heaven feasting out on some fabulous meals. I love cooking spicy recipes from scratch, adding in all the natural herbs and spices. In Mysore, I enjoyed Massala Dosa for breakfast – savoury pancakes filled with a spicy potato and a choice of chutneys and other toppings. It’s just what you need after a two-hour session of yoga early in the morning. Thrills and spills Dipping into the sea – I feel liberated and it definitely gives me a thrill. I live close to the beach and as soon as it’s warm enough in the summer, I cycle to the beach for a dip. I was inspired after watching a woman swim every day near to where I once stayed on the west coast of Canada – I thought she was really benefiting from her swim, so I thought I’d like some of that benefit. So I have dipped off the coast of Dorset ever since. It’s very cleansing. Favourite film I really love Amelie. I am not big on films generally, but with Amelie there’s so much to love – the soundtrack, the quirky story, it celebrates the uniqueness of human beings.
Favourite book I frequently dip in and out of Yoga Anatomy by Lesley Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, which supports my yoga teaching. I was not a brilliant biology student but since becoming a teacher, I like to develop my understanding of anatomy and have found it fascinating. Secret escape There’s a special place in Scotland called Glenelg on the west coast, it’s remote and cut off. Where I stay is on the edge of a Loch and it’s just beautiful. I escape there with friends for Hogmanay… but shhh keep it secret! Someone who has inspired you All of my yoga teachers. My mum took me to my first yoga class at 17 and I have never looked back. I have had many teachers offering many different philosophies. I’ve been taught by young and old teachers but there has been a common thread with them all and that is insight and depth of wisdom. Cannot live without People. I love being around people, it’s motivational. I find different personalities fascinating. There’s never a dull moment when you’re in a crowd of friends, family or acquaintances.
Teacher zone A deeper understanding of yoga... for teachers, by teachers
om teacher zone
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Understanding the Yamas The first part of a three-part contemporary exploration of Patanjaliâ€™s Eight Limbs of Yoga. Here, Vidya Heisel begins with an explanation of the Yamas
om teacher zone
he philosophy of yoga is vast and deep and spans several thousand years or more. In India, the physical practice has never been the main event. The text that is mostly studied when you embark on a yoga teachers training programme is the classical text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Sutras are written in a dense verse form, which needs to be interpreted and unpacked in order to glean its profound wisdom. The Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) were compiled for and expounded upon within this classical text, which was written approximately two thousand years ago. The Eight Limbs offer a Yogic Path from the illusory identification of oneself as a separate and unique ‘self’ to realising one’s true nature as cosmic consciousness itself. More simply, they offer us philosophical guidance for personal growth and transformation. The Eight Limb Path is also known as Raja Yoga or The Path of Meditation. The eight limbs can be seen either as progressive steps towards the goal of final liberation or, as the late BKS Iyengar described them, the petals of a flower, which are all equally important and can be practiced simultaneously. There have been a multitude of interpretations of the Yoga Sutras. The following musings on the Eight Limb Path are a contemporary interpretation, based on my own 40 years of interest in eastern philosophy, spiritual practice and devotion to the Yogic Path.
THE FIRST YAMA: Ahimsa-Non Harming
The first Yama or Restraint is Ahimsa, which means non-violence. This means practicing nonviolence on all levels, from the gross to the subtle. If we were all practicing this in earnest, it would probably be the end of many of the serious problems with which the world is afflicted. We would all simply be practicing kindness and generosity. Obviously the grossest form of violence is taking another person’s life, and most of us never come close to perpetuating this kind of extreme violence. However, this Yama is asking us to examine the instinctive and primitive impulse within all of us to be aggressive and defensive (in other words, our own egos). It can seemingly be quite subtle. We might be in a bad mood and snap at someone, without meaning to. We may lose our temper whilst driving. In order never to cause harm to another living being we need to be constantly vigilant with our own egoic tendencies. This is an ongoing meditation. By doing this, and endeavouring to have a high standard for oneself, we up the ante for everyone else around us. This will have a profound effect on the whole, however small it seems. It may be a cliché at this point, but changing the world can only start with changing yourself. Another aspect of Ahimsa to consider deeply is the non-harming of animals. Yogis are traditionally vegetarian, as they consider eating meat against the principle of Ahimsa. It is helpful to consider the opposite of
The Eight Limbs are: 1. THE FIVE YAMAS: MORAL RESTRAINTS Ahimsa: Non-harming Satya: Truthfulness Asteya: Non-stealing Brahmacarya: Integrity around sexuality/moderation Aparigraha: Freedom from greed and desire 2. THE FIVE NIYAMAS: OBSERVANCES Sauca: Purity Santosha: Contentment Tapas: Self-discipline Svadyaya: Self-study Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to the Absolute
3. ASANAS: Physical postures 4. PRANAYAMA: Extension of the lifeforce energy 5. PRATYAHARA: Turning inwards 6. DHARANA: One pointed Focus 7. DHYANA: Meditation 8. SAMADHI: Enlightenment or Liberation Together, the first two limbs, the five Yamas (Restraints) and five Niyamas (Observances) make up the ethical component of Yoga.
om teacher zone causing another harm, which would be acting with warmth and kindness, even when you don’t feel like it. Smiling at someone, letting someone pull out in front of you, when driving. It’s these small and simple acts of kindness that slowly and surely change the world. So yogis unite and practice random acts of kindness!
THE SECOND YAMA: Satya, Truth or Truthfulness
To live in Satya, we must be interested in what is true. Finding out what is really true about the nature of existence demands a lot of deep soul-searching and help and guidance from others who have charted the territory.
When one is blessed with a spiritual revelation, it is said that the Truth is revealed, the doors of perception open, the veil of Maya (illusion) is lifted. What is commonly experienced is the true nature of the Universe or the fact of Cosmic Unity. One realises that there is only One Consciousness, and we are all inseparable, interconnected parts of it. In this moment of realisation one sees the ultimate Truth, one wakes up out of the slumber of an imagined separate sense of self. So knowing the ultimate Truth is no small thing. It means the end of egocentric living. It is a radical shift. Great yogis, like Buddha and Jesus, awoke to this Truth and lived their lives accordingly. Finding out what the truth is in any given situation, asks for clarity and simplicity and the renunciation of self-interest. So often we
are interested in seeing things how we want to see them, or how other people have told us to see them, rather than how they really are. Satya also means simply being honest and truthful. Being truthful means to be open and to never engage in pretense. We habitually hide behind masks and play manipulative games with others. Practicing Satya is about being vulnerable and transparent. In terms of honesty this doesn’t mean that we should just blurt out everything on our mind, like, for instance, telling someone that we really hate their new haircut. Certain things are better left unsaid. We have to bear Ahimsa (non-harming) in mind at all times. However, it’s important to attempt to be real and vulnerable with others around and demonstrate refreshing integrity and openness. When we have recognised the interconnectedness of all beings, and the fact that we are all the same; all struggling with the human condition; all struggling to evolve, then we cease to defend and protect our own egos, and transparency and vulnerability become more natural.
THE THIRD YAMA: Asteya, Non-Stealing or Non-Coveting
This, at first, may seem obvious but when one thinks of it more deeply, there are many ways in which we take what isn’t ours. It could be stealing time or energy from others, such as when we call someone up and start talking their ear off, without asking if it’s a good time to talk. It could be taking resources from the planet, without replacing them. Patanjali makes no distinction between stealing and coveting. Coveting implies that one feels dissatisfied with what one already has. Too often we are envious of another, often projecting the grass to be greener somewhere else and taking for granted how much wealth, abundance and freedom we already have. I think the most helpful way to meditate on this Yama, is to contemplate the opposite of taking, which is giving and also the opposite of coveting, which is appreciation for what one already has. Hopefully this contemplation will lead us to a deep gratitude for life, and for all that we have been given and will result in a real generosity of spirit.
om teacher zone THE FOURTH YAMA: Brahmacarya or Celibacy
The fourth Yama or Restraint is Brahmacarya, which traditionally is the name given to the practice of celibacy. Historically, yogis renounced the life of a householder, choosing to forsake marriage and family to live the life of a renunciate in forest communities. Rather than repress their sexual energy, they would consciously transmute this energy for higher spiritual pursuits. In the last few hundred years it has become more accepted that yogis may also choose the life of a householder, marry and have family and simultaneously pursue spiritual liberation. In modern times we often translate Brahmacarya to mean control of sensual pleasures or integrity in relationship to one’s sexuality. It may be a bit of a stretch to contemplate celibacy for most people, but we can all relate to the importance of exercising self-control and respecting oneself and others. The sexual force is very powerful and has been the downfall of many otherwise respectable men and women, including many modern day gurus. Most of us have experienced the distraction, pain and jealousy, often caused by sexual obsession with another. It can be all consuming. It therefore makes sense that Yogis used to choose to opt out of this area of life altogether and to use their energies for contemplation, study of scriptures and meditation. Most of us do not want to hold our sexuality up to the light and examine it, as we hold it very dear, almost to the point of being sacred. We do not want to examine the depth of our bondage to this overwhelming force of nature. If we wish to practice Brahmacarya we should endeavour to contemplate how enslaved we are by our sexuality. We can begin to observe the instinctive and primal movement of this very compelling and instinctive force within us. Through beginning to question these very intense emotions, we can start to loosen their hold over us and begin to see through them. We may also start to question our roles as men and as women, and notice when we use our sexuality to manipulate, often in subtle or unconscious ways.
THE FIFTH YAMA: Aparigraha, Freedom from Greed and Desire
Practicing Aparigraha means becoming aware of the endless craving and dissatisfaction of the egoic self and choosing to renounce it. The true Self needs nothing, is always profoundly fulfilled and content just resting in its true nature. The ego is always hungry, always feels like something is missing, always is in a state of dis-ease. The Buddha said “Samsara (the world of the ego) is endless”. The wanting or craving of the ego is always present in all of us. The part of you that thinks “if only I had a bigger house, a better job, a loving relationship, a vacation in the Bahamas, a new car and so on, and so on, then I will be happy” is the ego. For the ego, happiness is always that elusive state in the future and never now. It thrives on wanting. We all know that the moment one of our desires gets fulfilled, pretty soon we take it for granted and start wanting something else we don’t have yet. Nothing outside of ourselves will ever make us happy for more than a few fleeting moments. The whole of the teachings of the Buddha rest on understanding the nature of desire and greed and the human suffering it creates. The yogic journey is about waking up to the fact that you are not the ego, not the small separate sense of self, and discovering that you are the Whole; you are Consciousness itself. When you realise this, you will care about the whole of humanity and cease to want only for yourself. To begin to practice Aparigraha, start by becoming aware of unwholesome cravings and feelings of dissatisfaction and choose to renounce them. Whenever these feeling arise, stop to remember how fortunate you are to not be hungry, to have a roof over your head and a healthy body. Instead, find ways to practice gratitude and generosity.
Vidya Heisel is the founder of Frog Lotus Yoga and director of Frog Lotus Yoga International Yoga Teacher Training (froglotusyogainternational.com)
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om teacher zone Teacher’s Tales:
You don’t have to take every opportunity that comes your way, says Paula Hines Saying yes can be great. I like to say yes. Yes can spread joy. Yes can open doors and expand your world. I definitely agree with the idea of saying yes to doing the things that scare you (if you get that feeling it tends to be a sign that that’s exactly the thing you need to go and do! Right now! Go on… It’s a gut instinct thing – more on that later). That said, it is okay to not say yes to everything just because something seems like a great opportunity. In this age of marrying teaching yoga with business, it can be tempting to imagine you need to be doing what everyone else is doing. But it’s not true. I’ve said no to some great opportunities. Here’s why and I feel this is something that is true for us all: I realised that just because something is an opportunity, it doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for me. Over the past few years I’ve had a number of instances where people have suggested what I should or could be doing with regard to my teaching or building up my teaching into a bigger business. It is always well meaning and often, there are some brilliant ideas. I used to think my reluctance to follow up on some of these meant that I was holding myself back somehow. But the truth is some of these ideas don’t necessarily resonate with what feels right for me. The big clue is when my head says one thing and my gut says the opposite. When I have made decisions based on logic about a seemingly fantastic opportunity and gone against a nagging gut feeling telling me otherwise, the outcome has always been disappointing at best. However, when I have made decisions based on instinct, no matter how illogical it seems on the surface, my gut has, to date, never steered me wrong. It may sound airy-fairy but as yoga practitioners this notion appears to make more sense the more you practice and the more adept you become at tuning into your intuitive nature. In the words of Judith Hanson Lasater, “Trust yourself first. Not only, but first.” And if an opportunity comes your way that you know isn’t right for you but feel instinctively that it could be perfect for someone else, why not pass it on? What goes around comes around.
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)
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Missing her yoga: Dee Harris
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Helen Fenton introduced to a new pose: downward facing cat butt
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Awe-inspiring retreats and ideas for yoga explorers
Winter Glow Yoga
Get your yoga glow back this winter at the beautiful Poundon House in Oxfordshire If you’re looking to brush away the winter cobwebs this January then head down to Poundon House in Oxfordshire. Winter Glow Yoga is the latest retreat offer from a new small sister-run start-up and takes place this January. Natalie Roscoe and her yoga teacher sister Alicia hope to introduce the delights of Oxfordshire to some of the most innovative and exciting yoga teachers and wellbeing pros in the country, all while being pampered amid country-house luxury. The January retreat will be hosted by London-based instructor Saskia Price (saskiayoga.com), who teaches at various studios across the capital. Plenty of yoga and some great food too. All the menus for the weekend are being prepared by the goddesses at The Detox Kitchen, under the watchful eye of Lily Simpson, author of the delicious Detox Kitchen Bible. Prices from £350pp (triple room), or £380pp (twin room). Includes three days and two nights at Poundon House; two daily yoga practices; two main meals a day; afternoon tea/snacks between meals; country walk each day; 30 minute treatment (massage/manicure/pedicure/facial). January 15-17, 2016 poundonhouse.com
om travel The garden of England Escape the city blues for a yoga-packed weekender in Kent Join yoga teacher Jeff Phenix for a full yoga programme at the ancient manor of Oxon Hoath, near Seven Oaks in Kent. Set in the heart of the English countryside, and with 73 acres of its own beautiful, tranquil gardens, it’s only 45 minutes out of London. Arrival is on Friday afternoon and the schedule starts with a short evening yoga class, before dinner, and then an evening meditation afterwards. Saturday morning starts with pranayama and meditation before breakfast and then a longer more vigorous ‘yang’ style session. There’s time to explore the house and gardens before a more mellow ‘yin’ style class early evening, and then, after dinner, a short meditation. Sunday morning follows the same format until you leave after lunch recharged and revitalised. January 22-24, 2016 Prices from £295 (for large shared room, up to 4 sharing) phenixyoga.com
Marrakech wellbeing weekend Escape the cold with some marvellous yoga and Moroccan sunshine this January Jet off to enjoy Morocco’s guaranteed sunshine (it’s just 3.5 hours away from London) for a January wellbeing weekend in magical Marrakech. Satvada Retreats is again hosting one of its wellbeing weekends in the vibrant Moroccan city, suitable for all levels (complete beginners welcome!), where you’ll stay at one of the city’s stylish Riads. The Chelmsford-based company’s popular Wellbeing Weekends are limited to a maximum of 10 guests, promoting a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. A chance to restore body and soul in the midst of winter, they’re also a nice ‘taster weekend’ if you fancy signing up to one of Satvada’s longer retreats later in the year. And if you’ve never been to Morocco before, it’s all made easy for you. Apart from flights, everything is arranged for you: easy airport transfers, delicious food, restoring yoga and meditation. Jan 29 to Feb 1, 2016 From £499pp based on double/twin occupancy satvada-retreats.co.uk
Ever wondered where yoga A-listers go to lead their retreats? OM editor Martin D. Clark discovers the luxury Samujana estate on Thailand’s Koh Samui island
oh Samui is a familiar stomping ground for backpackers, hippies and yoga travellers, but it has another side too…an upmarket and affluent side. It’s a place that’s perfect for a yoga splurge if you’re in need of a winter sunshine getaway. The Samujana estate is a collection of 30 five-star luxury villas just a few minutes’ drive away from the beaches of Chaweng and Choeng Mon and the island’s airport. The villas are all privately owned (you’ll need at least a million dollars or more if you fancy picking one up) and offer residents their own small piece of tropical paradise.
Not that these villas are small. These multi level homes, split across three or four rambling tiers, are more akin to the Hollywood mansions that belong to our favourite movie stars (in fact, you may even find yourself living next door to one, with famous faces not unknown around these parts). There’s space galore as you explore the cavernous bedrooms and baths, infinity pools, sun decks, and the outdoor kitchen and bar areas where it’s easy to while away the hours in the evening stargazing with friends. While some old hands who’ve long made the long trek to Koh Samui through the years argue that the island has lost some of its authenticity, with too much construction and new tourism development, Samujana is one place that has been built with great sympathy for the environment. All of the villas are built along a stretch of coastline that winds its way steeply upwards from the beach offering everyone (and every single bedroom) a unique and commanding view of the Gulf of Thailand below. During the daytime, that means a big blue vista of sea and sky, the occasional boat passing by, plus the lush tropical hills inland; or enjoy the island’s twinkling lights that litter the hillsides by night. You’ll never need a television set with all the free sunrises and sunsets on offer (two episodes per day), but if you’re in need of a fix there’s always your own private air conditioned home cinema room. Yes, the villas have those too.
Yoga and wellness
And then there’s the yoga. At Samujana, you’re spoilt for choice in terms of places to do your sun salutations. Take your place on the beach or roll out your mat by the pool and soak in the most incredible landscapes as you breathe in the pure air and soak up the warm sun. Some familiar yoga teachers are starting to get to know the area too. Rachel Brathen (aka Yoga Girl of Instagram fame) was at Samujana recently to lead a retreat and running a cooking demo in one of the villas. I was lucky enough to get a Thai cookery lesson as well, although, to be fair, cooking’s a lot more fun when you’re on a paradise island and someone has already done the prep work for you. Still, my Thai food extravaganza was probably the best, and certainly the most visually appealing, dish I’d ever put together. More well-known yoga teachers are likely to be finding their way here too as Samujana looks to position itself as a full spa and retreats destination. The resort recently paired up with luxury wellness group Amrita Retreats to offer guests a variety of detox and vitality programmes for those seeking a balance between achieving health goals and relaxation.
Moon all night beach parties. Kindred Spirit is available to hire (with crew) for anyone and there are plenty of other cool islands to discover. Back on Koh Samui, a visit to the Big Buddha (literally, a big golden buddha) is a must, as is the curious Mummified Monk, the remains of a local monk, Phra Khru Samathakittikhun, who remained un-decomposed after he died in 1973 and are now presented in a glass casing for all to see. Receiving a blessing from the Buddhist monks at these temples is a nice way to reconnect with the deep spiritual current that runs throughout this country, even in the face of such frenetic modern development. And, back at your villa, there’s always an early evening yoga session to keep you grounded after a face-to-face encounter with bustling Thai life. Then sit back and take in the all-natural environment around you as the evening draws in; there’s no better place to observe Koh Samui’s fast-changing weather and flash storms then in the comfort of Samujana. Getting this close to nature has never been so easier, or more indulgent.
“Rachel Brathen (aka Yoga Girl of Instagram fame) was at Samujana recently to lead a retreat.” These retreats may resonate well with yogis, and are based around traditional Thai herbs and naturopathic expertise, nutrition science, personalised body fitness and mind practices (including yoga and meditation) and general organic living awareness. In the mornings, I enjoyed a series of yoga wake-up sessions with a number of great locally-based teachers. Your hosts can arrange pretty much anything for you - private yoga, group yoga, prenatal yoga, kids yoga whatever you’re looking for, such is the nature of the millionaire’s playboy lifestyle. And, just to mix things up, there was also a Thai Boxing class to get fighting fit. Finding a pair of vivid blue Thai Boxing shorts waiting for me on my bed the evening before was typical of the personal attention you get from the Samujana staff. It was a nice, personal touch.
Around the island
Of course, Koh Samui is popular with tourists for a reason, so exploring the island’s beaches, vibrant street markets and food stalls is a must. It’s great fun, although saying no to the freshly prepared food on offer at Samujana, lovingly made for you by local chefs, is not easy. The ingredients are almost all locally sourced and as fresh as it gets. The coconut milk, sipped through a straw from coconuts that have just dropped from the trees nearby, are out of this world. One of the highlights was a day trip on the resort’s own catamaran, Kindred Spirit, to the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan. A more sedate and less commercialised island, it’s known in equal measure partly for its yoga and yoga teacher trainings, and by others for its banging Full
Fact File Bookings can be made at: samujana.com Lead in prices start from £360 per villa per night. Flights from London to Koh Samui via Bangkok start at £571 return per person.
Bay of plenty Two beautiful secluded bays in Britain, two amazing wellbeing retreats
The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall A luxury eco hotel high on the cliffs above magnificent Mawgan Porth beach, close to surf capital, Newquay, the yoga retreats here are small but very special. You’ll join an intimate group of just three or four others, working closely within a supportive atmosphere, which means you’ll get plenty of feedback (if you want it) from the instructors; great for elevating your practice. The yoga sessions take place inside a room with plenty of natural light flooding in from outside thanks to the huge windows (or the beach is always available in the summer). Enjoy a calming meditation after you arrive: sink into the mats, chairs and bean bags as you start to shake off that big city stress, and let the underfloor heating envelope your feet in warmth as you do so. But then that’s the whole story of this boutique hotel…it’s more like a warm comfort blanket. From the moment you arrive, everything is geared to restoring your inner peace and outer glow - the yoga, the staff, the surroundings by the sea, the opulent interior decorated in eye-catching local artwork. It’s all good for the soul. The highlight of any trip to has to be a visit
to the spa, which holds a real nurturing and restorative vibe. With luxury tented treatment rooms lit by lanterns, it offers a quiet, contemplative, almost spiritual space. Your spa ‘journey’ includes an initial ayurvedic consultation with a therapist who will put together a bespoke plan for you, depending on your dosha type and preferences. Slather yourself in rich mineral mud in the rhassoul, experience a traditional bathing ritual in the hammam, or indulge in one of dozens of fantastic treatments with eco products from the likes of Ila Spa. Finish in one of the seaweed-filled hot tubs on the cliffs outside for a breathtaking view of the bay below, or in the cocoon-like pods that hang from the ceiling in the relaxation room where you can drift away. Afterwards, you’ll get your personalised notes back with recommendations on ayurvedic supplements and other products; pretty helpful if you’re looking to carry forward the benefits from your stay back into the real world. And, if you are able to pluck yourself from your cocoon, then head to the bar area upstairs or into the hotel’s restaurant for fresh and delicious modern European style food
with a Cornish twist. With the spectacular views out to the horizon that change throughout the day, it’s a great place to watch the sunset or to start your day. HOW MUCH: from £760pp for a three-night stay. Includes two dinners (including one hosted by your yoga tutor), ayurvedic consultation; three private 90-minute yoga sessions; one guided meditation; four-hour spa journey including bathing ritual and massage; plus complimentary yoga classes every morning. Travel in style via Great Western Railways (gwr.com). Or, if you simply can’t wait to get there, Newquay airport is about 10 minutes away by car.
om travel St. Bride’s Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire This spa hotel, set atop the cliffs overlooking Saundersfoot harbour and Carmarthen Bay, part of Pembrokeshire’s acclaimed coastal route (the UK’s only National Park by the sea), is a great pamper escape. More for the spa connoisseur and foodies rather than fitness types - you’ll most likely get your exercise from the bracing walks along the beach down below, although there is a fitness studio as well - it’s ideal if you want to get away from it all and indulge for a few days. The Marine Spa here has an emphasis on the natural healing properties of the ocean, so you’ll find lots of marine-based products and treatments, as well as the use of salt water therapy. St. Bride’s Spa uses sustainably sourced sun-dried sea saltwater in its heated hydrotherapy pool which looks out to the harbour and bay outside, a wonderful way to idle away time; dip in and out of the jacuzzi air bed or swan neck shower bath, designed to create real massaging sensations. All the treatments here are divine and delivered by friendly, knowledgable and professional therapists. The Draining and Detoxifying Seaweed Leaf Wrap (£75) is a Voya treatment where you’ll be wrapped in warmed seaweed with rich mineral properties, and hot organic muslin cloth, and then receive a relaxing head massage. It’s a must for all would-be mermaids out there. The spa also includes a thermal suite with
a salt infusion room, aroma steam room, rock sauna, sensation shower and ice fountain, as you rest up before or after any treatments. And if you’re feeling loved up for Valentine’s Day, check in with your partner to the dual treatment room which invites couples (or friends) to enjoy the spa experience side-byside, with fantastic views of the bay below. In the summer, the giant French windows slide open to invite the fresh sea air and gentle tidal sounds into the room. Upstairs, the stylish bedrooms are all individually designed, and it’s easy to hide away if the weather’s not playing ball (which happens in these parts!). Rooms with a sea view also boast their own balcony, great for watching the boats drift by. But make sure you head to the hotel’s Cliff restaurant for supper with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and more amazing views. The menu is seasonal and incorporates local produce and freshly caught fish where possible. It’s understandably very popular with the locals too. And don’t skip pudding either…this is a place to spoil yourself rotten rather than deprive yourself so make the most of the experience. The only real problem with St Brides is that you may not want to leave.
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If comparison is the thief of joy, sometimes it’s best to go in blind. By Victoria Jackson
hat was the best thing about class the other day? It was when my teacher dropped into Crow variations, showing effortless strength and precision, his breath leading the movement, where everything was measured and unhurried. And he offered commentary all the way through. Talking and demonstrating simultaneously — how is this even possible? I was in awe. This got me thinking about my first experiences of class. My teacher doesn’t usually demonstrate much; he’s more a roamaround-the-room type offering verbal cues and adjustments where needed. I used to wish that he would model the full practice at the front. If a picture speaks a thousand words, why, oh why, didn’t he just show each pose to us? The very translation of asana commonly as ‘pose’ confirmed to me that outward appearance was everything. Right? So for a long time in class I used to twist my neck trying to watch the bodies moving in front of me, and outside of class I pored over picture books and online videos. I was so anxious to get it ‘right’. These forms of copying helped me get the basics sorted, and
“For a long time in class I used to twist my neck trying to watch the bodies moving in front of me, and outside of class I pored over picture books and online videos.” 130
tell my Warrior 1 from my Warrior 2. Now a bit further on in my practice I’m finally starting to grasp that it’s not about looking like the picture in the book and that perhaps there isn’t any such thing as the perfect asana anyway. When I look around now, I see as many different expressions of a pose as there are mats in the room. When I think about it more, I wonder if asanas are in fact more fluid than static. They seem to take shape within each body and the longer I stay in an asana the more I notice that my body moves to fill the shape, to expand into its edges. So I’m gradually learning to find the essence of each pose, feeling it from the inside, rather than simply emulating its outward form. I’m now grateful that my teacher doesn’t demonstrate the full practice with the class. This has prevented me from mimicking his way of being in an asana, that would have been everything about his body, and nothing to do with mine. Yoga would have been a frustrating exercise of imperfect copy, where I compared my own form unfavourably with his more practiced movements. And we all know that “comparison is the thief of joy” – as well as being the antithesis of a personal yoga practice. So sometimes in class now I close my eyes. I don’t want to watch anyone else, I want to feel my way into my own pose, whatever that might look like. It’s the transformation from his words to my body that creates my unique experience of yoga. This must be good yoga, to explore the inner landscape, I tell myself. Unless, of course, my teacher drops into a pose — then I’m all eyes again! Except that now it feels more like inspiration than emulation.
Victoria Jackson will forever be a beginner yogini
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