NOVEMBER 2015 - £4.25
YOGA STRONG 6 poses to build strength
I got the music in me
REASONS WHY YOGA IS FAB AFTER 50
the perfect yoga soundtrack
Less is more
De-stress your life
the subtle side of yoga
yoga off the mat
I MET A MONK
lessons in mindfulness • • • •
OM Meets – Tao Porchon-Lynch Sally’s army – on retreat in Sussex Trust the process – Finding contentment Yoga A-Z – O is for OM
Rejuvenate in style at Purple Valley Retreat, Goa. Indulge in a yoga holiday at Purple Valley - the best place for an Ashtanga Yoga retreat in Asia. Set in lush tropical gardens, with an Ayurvedic Spa, a crystal clear pool, chillout areas and a juice bar, delicious vegetarian & raw food cooked by international chefs and daily yoga with world class teachers; Including John Scott, David Keil, Dena Kingsberg, Michael Gannon, David Robson, Joey Miles and many more. Beginners welcome on most courses
OM Magazine Issue 56, November 2015 Published by:
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Contributors Stella Tomlinson
A Southampton-based Dru Yoga teacher and blogger, Stella teaches calming yoga techniques to help sensitive souls release the symptoms of anxiety and tension and to help them feel stronger, relaxed and better able to cope with the stresses of everyday life. She would love to connect with other sensitive yogis via her Facebook page: livingyogawithstella
Lucy is a London-based freelance journalist and yogi, Sunday Telegraph fitness and lifestyle columnist and the author of the narrative non fiction book Run, Ride, Sink or Swim (Faber, 2015). In this issue of OM magazine she writes the feature article Mindful Tautology (see page 78). Discover more at: lucyfry.co.uk @lucycfry
Claudia is a qualified yoga teacher and also has yoga for athletes and sports accreditation with Sarah Ramsden. She has trained with Anne-Marie Newland of Sun Power Yoga, and leading US teachers Tara Stiles and David Swenson. As well as her classes in Stafford, she also teaches corporate clients like West Bromwich Albion Football Club, Staffordshire County Council, Dentsu Aegis Network, Fleximas and South Staffordshire Mental Health Foundation Trust.
Siri Arti; Conscious Parenting Lesley Dawn; Life and Loves Paula Hines; Teacherâ€™s Tales Jill Lawson; Meditation Of The Month Denise Leicester; Natural Born Beauty Deb Mac; Whatâ€™s Your Affirmation
Jonathan Schofield; Beginners Blog Sarah Swindlehurst; Yoga Therapy Lexie Williamson; OM Lite Julia White; Yoga & Aromatherapy Charlotte Watts; De-stress: yoga off the mat
Eleonora Zampatti photographed for the cover of OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine issue 56 by Claire Sheprow (findorionphoto.com)
Welcome There’s a popular saying I like, basically along the lines of ‘the time you most need to relax is when you don’t have time for it’ (there are multiple variations of this doing the rounds on the internet right now). It’s quite a quandary though in our modern high-tech working lives. Just how do you relax when you don’t have the time to relax? How, when you’re simply too busy to take time out, can you lift your foot off the gas to reset the stress levels to ‘normal’? And yet it’s so true. That is precisely the time when we (me, you, all of us) need to stop – literally, stop – and take the time out to relax. It’s easier said than done when you’re caught up in snarling traffic in the mornings, or the boss is breathing down your neck waiting for the latest accounts update. But what’s the alternative? The alternative is to not relax, to allow our anxieties to build up and boil over, to feel the stress take a stranglehold on our body’s systems. This then feeds more stress, more anxiety, until we explode at the driver in the car next to us, or the boss, or anyone within earshot – our partner, our children, the woman at the checkout. Or worse, we bottle it up and store it inside…for days, weeks, even years. Yoga is a great way to let it all out, of course, provided you do actually schedule the time to do it, whether that’s a formal class or a quick five minutes at home. But there are other ways too, including scheduling mini meditations through the day, where you can press the reset button amidst all the pressures of daily life. So take a mindful moment right now, or sign up for that yoga class tonight, and find that brief moment of stillness in all the chaos. And next time you find yourself too busy to even contemplate relaxation just know that this a gentle reminder to do the same again: when life hits fast forward, it’s time to press the pause button.
OM in 30 seconds “Your body might feel the effects of the passing of time, but you can still generate youthful energy.” Older and Wiser (page 80
Are you a highly sensitive person? About 15-20% of the population have a nervous system which is more sensitive to their surroundings and stimuli. Sensitive Souls (page 72) Nutritious and delicious: easy recipe ideas from American yoga superstar Tara Stiles No Rules Kitchen (Page 97)
This month’s subscriptions & giveaways
WIN a stay for two at Grayshott Spa (worth over £800) – Page 60
Yoga Eye Pillows – p119
The Affirmations Coloring Book – p119
WORDS OF WIDSOM
“Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered” Osho
Plus many more inside… 5
November 2015 OM Regulars
7 Reasons Why Yoga Is Fab After 50
Yoga Therapy: Vertigo
Yoga A-Z: O is for OM
My Secret Place
Yoga Changed My Life
Inside The Temple
What’s Your Affirmation
Beat Work Stress With Yoga
Yoga & Aromatherapy: Patchouli Oil
Natural Born Beauty
Fashion: Joy + Freedom
51 Less Is More: Sometimes It’s Good To Take Things Slow
52 Enjoy The Process: When Less Effort Creates More Ease
54 Give Up The Struggle: With less effort comes a lot more fun
56 Mobility And Movement Flow: Step Back And Focus For Big Rewards
28 OM Loves:
64 Man On The Mat: Extended Bound Side
Beautiful Things For Beautiful People
60 Competition: Win A Stay For Two At
65 Beginner’s Blog: Life’s Great Up North
Grayshott Spa Worth Over £800
109 OM Books:
66 A Life In Pictures: The Work Of
Great Yoga Reads
Photographer Michael O’Neill
116 Yoga Is For Every Body: Your Photos. Your Community
72 Sensitive Souls: Are You A Highly
126 Life & Loves Of A Yoga Teacher Cover Story
130 OM Lite: I Got The Music In Me
76 Get Things Done: A Guide To
OM Body 32 Feel The Burn:
9 Poses To Detox
Yoga At Home
40 OM Meets…
44 Yoga Strong: Six Postures For
Tao Porchon-Lynch Building Strength
Sweet Savasana: A Poem By Nick Kearney
Mindful Yoga: Tautology Or Necessity?
Older & Wiser: Meditation Of The Month
82 The De-Stress Effect: Coming Back To Center
OM Spirit Cover Story
I Met A Monk: Lessons In Mindfulness
Celtic Yoga: Rooted In Ancient Mythology
Ayurvedic Clinic: The Eyes Have It
90 Trust The Process: Finding Contentment In Bakasana
92 Hugs & Hope: Global Spiritual Leader Amma
OM Living 94
Eat Drink Yoga: Healthy Eating Goodies
97 No Rules Kitchen:
Easy Recipe Ideas From
102 Nutrition Zone: An Ayurvedic Detox
OM Family 104 Yoga, Mindfulness & The School Curriculum: Yoga In Education 106 Conscious Parenting:
Celebrate Seasonal Change
108 Kids Unplugged: Switch Off Those
OM Actions 110 I Can Do It: Making Money As A Yoga Teacher
112 Teacher’s Tales: The X Factor 114 How To Be A Yoga Rockstar: Sensational Studios, Part 8
OM Travel 120 OM Travel News: Awe Inspiring Retreats & Ideas For Yoga Explorers
122 Wild Wellbeing: Africa’s Stunning Serengeti Region
124 Sally’s Army: A Blissful Yoga Weekender At Brooklands Barn
Subscribe today to OM Magazine and receive a FREE 1kg bag of Epsom Salts and a Jar worth £11.95* 7
My secret place Location Hyde Hall, Battlesbridge, Essex Yogi Abi Mills Photo Luke Ayling The photo shows Abi Mills - the face of the OM Yoga Show 2015 - in the grounds of Hyde Hall in Essex, one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s most delightful estates. “I’m always looking for a bit of peace amidst the chaos and this is it,” she says. “It’s such a beautiful spot to practice, especially if you catch the sunset.” It’s certainly a serene and peaceful location, one where the yogini feels a natural energy boost. “A view like this is a great reminder of how small our problems are, however big they may seem at the time. It’s a reminder to me to stay in the present moment and appreciate life right now.”
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YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE
Yoga gave Paris Parle a whole new direction in life after injury ended her ballet career Why did you start yoga
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NAME: Paris Parle AGE: 25 OCCUPATION: Yoga teacher/ studio owner YOGA YEARS: 5+
I was searching for an alternative form of exercise after an injury in my ballet career. I wanted to nourish not punish my body yet maintain the length and strength ballet had provided me with. The first time I stepped on a yoga mat I realized it was not merely a workout but the opportunity to work on myself. The creative expression I could inject into my practice echoed my dancing joy and so the love affair with mind, body and breath began.
How has yoga changed your life
My brain and personality run at 100 mph and as my close friends know, I can have the attention span of a toddler, yet stepping onto my mat, everything changes. My mind slows, my breath steadies and I thrive on being in that present moment, surrendering fully to the asana. I am at my happiest on my yoga mat, focused and determined, yet compassionate. This compassion has spilled over into all areas and I feel yoga has made me a more caring and giving person.
Favorite yoga haunts
I am extremely proud of my homegrown yoga community at yoga euphoria, the hot yoga studio that I founded in 2014. I love being part of their yoga journey and witnessing students develop gives me a lot of pleasure.
Best yoga moment
Completing my yoga teacher training is one of the highlights so far on my yoga journey. Such a physically and mentally challenging experience left me both happy and proud to have accomplished it.
To be able to practice every day with students and friends new and old in a caring, nurturing environment makes work a joy for me. The chance to escape real life and immerse myself in all things yoga was once my dream and now it is my reality. I think that’s pretty special.
Inside the temple
A new exhibition exploring the mysteries of Tantric Buddhism opens in London this month
ooking for some yogic art inspiration this winter? Wellcome Collection’s ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple’ opens this month in London, exploring the mysteries of Tantric Buddhism and the rich history of its yogic and meditation practices. Taking inspiration from the intricate murals that adorn the walls of the Lukhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet, the exhibition showcases over 120 outstanding objects from collections around the world that illuminate the secrets of the temple, once used exclusively by Tibet’s Dalai Lamas. Originally accessible only by boat, the Lukhang, or ‘Temple to the Serpent Spirits’, was built in the late 17th century, during the reigns of the fifth and sixth Dalai Lamas, as a private sanctuary for meditation and spiritual practice, behind the Potala Palace. The murals in the uppermost chamber helped guide the Dalai Lamas on their journey to enlightenment and have been recreated by photographer Thomas Laird as spectacular life-sized digital artworks that form the centerpiece of the exhibition. This is the first time whole Tibetan wall murals have ever been displayed in a museum as transparencies. Photographs and models of the temple itself show its construction as a three-dimensional mandala, a sacred geometrical shape that represents the Buddhist universe, with its three tiers representing three dimensions of enlightenment – outer reality, inner experience, and a transcendent dimension beyond time and space. “This exhibition represents the first time that objects connected to secret Tantric Buddhist practices have been displayed openly to the public,” said Ian Baker, a Tibetan Buddhist scholar who served as the exhibition’s external curator. “The exhibition highlights the relevance of these practices in today’s global society and their ongoing contribution to a deeper understanding of the possibilities and potential of human existence.” Tibet’s Secret Temple: Body, Mind and Meditation in Tantric Buddhism runs at Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, from 19 November 2015 to 28 February 2016. wellcomecollection.org/secrettemple
What’s your affirmation? An affirmation for inner strength and self empowerment. By Deb Mac “I am adventurous. I let life excite and delight me with all its twists and turns” Are you secretly wanting to get out and explore more? Are you wanting to live life with zest and more playfulness? Don’t be held back by your fear or someone else’s idea of how your life ‘should’ be. Live life on your terms. Life can only be perceived as boring, as dull, or as stagnant as you allow it to be. Open your mind to the endless possibilities that life has to offer you. Are you ready to venture out of your comfort zone and let yourself be curious and in awe of the bountiful beauty of life? Routine and order serve a purpose although spontaneity is good for the soul too. A change of routine, of pace and of scenery may be just what we need at times. Let your mind expand to the beautiful, bountiful vistas just waiting to be viewed by your eyes, your heart and your soul. Adventure means walking towards an uncertain outcome. Let life love, delight and excite you.
Yoga Academy faculty includes: Simon Low (Principal), Gill Lloyd, Gary Carter, Julie Gudmestad, Sue Delf, Eija Tervonen
ONGOING TEACHER TRAINING • study immersions of continuing professional development for teachers • hours eligible for Yoga Alliance 500-hour upgrade and CPD
UPCOMING IMMERSIONS: 20-hour immersion with Gary Carter, Simon Low and Eija Tervonen 13–15 November 2015, at Commonwork, nr Sevenoaks, Kent 40-hour immersion with Great Yoga Wall training intensive 18–22 November 2015, at Santillán, nr Malaga, Spain
TEACHER TRAINING COURSES Yin and Yang Yoga Teacher Training and Study Immersion Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification 7 February – 6 March 2016, at Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand 2-year BWY Accredited Teacher Training with Yoga Alliance US and Yoga Alliance UK 200-hour certification Commences on 22 April, with 5 residential intensives at Commonwork, nr Sevenoaks, Kent, UK and Santillán, nr Malaga, Spain
www.theyogaacademy.org firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/theyogaacademy
By Deb Mac (contentedlittlesoles.com)
simon low WINTER YOGA RETREATS 2016 SAMAHITA RETREAT, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND 3–10 January, 2016 JUNGLE YOGA, KHAO SOK LAKE, THAILAND 11–17 January, 2016
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Beat work stress with yoga
With National Stress Awareness Day upon us now’s the perfect time to take up yoga
oga teachers may breeze about the room looking unflustered at work but that’s not the case for most ordinary folk. Stress in the workplace is on the rise, research suggests. Yes, it probably helps if your workplace is a nice yoga studio, but for all others, now’s a good time to do something about the stress levels. November 4 marks National Stress Awareness Day, a chance to get back into some good de-stress habits (you’re in the right place here, just browse through OM for some feel-good ideas and yogic inspiration). A recent poll by Deep Heat Muscle Rescue showed that one in 10 people are stressed ‘most of the time’ when they are at work, while a fifth of us are stressed out before we even get to work because of the journey. Dealing with people is the biggest stressor for most staff with 34% citing this as a cause compared to 17% who blamed computers and technology. The advice from the experts here is to take regular breaks away from those screens and stretch the legs. Perhaps, not surprisingly, Monday morning is the most stressful time of the week. As well as yoga, other therapies and treatments like massage, Pilates and the Alexander Technique (AT) also have a role to play in de-stressing the nation. Getting some sound posture advice is also helpful for those hours spent at the desk. AT specializt James Crow says: “Good posture is the foundation of good health. The more time you spend sitting awkwardly, and the longer you leave muscles feeling tight and tense, the greater the risk of headaches, neck and shoulder pain and repetitive strain injury.” So go on, book yourself onto that yoga course you’ve been thinking about. Now’s the time.
Patchouli Essential Oil: (Pogostemon Cablin)
November means wintertime: long, dark wintry days and grey skies. As the winter blues set in, use patchouli essential oil: pogostemon cablin. Patchouli Oil is excellent at treating SAD (Seasonal affective disorder). It helps you relax, calms emotions and brings complete peace of mind. To beat the blues, put a few drops in a diffuser; as the oils fill the room, you will soon be picked up, feeling warm and revived. If your skin is also suffering in the winter from the harsh cold and wind, add a few drops to some coconut oil and apply to the skin to completely smooth dry, cracked skin. Patchouli oil has been used throughout history in religious rituals. It is perfect for prayer and meditation. Add two drops of patchouli oil to a diffuser before meditation to help bring mental clarity and guide you. It also clarifies all of the seven chakras, especially Ajna chakra. Patchouli is an incredibly grounding oil to balance yourself: fill a bottle with distilled water add 10 drops of patchouli oil and use as a grounding spray for your yoga mat. After a tough yoga session, add a couple of drops of patchouli oil to a carrier oil and massage into any inflamed joints or areas. Put three drops into a warm bath to refresh your mind and strengthen your immune system after a long day. Avoid in the first trimester of pregnancy. Can be sedative if used in large amounts. Use in low dosages due to high concentration.
By Julia White (beautifulmindbeautifulbody.co.uk)
Retreats in Snowdonia Yoga, Nutrition & Detox retreat 27-29 November Bhagavad Gita & Meditation 4-8 December
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Amazing spaces Stylish and inspiring studio design ideas and interiors House Of Jai Yoga, New York, USA houseofjai.com When you’re in New York, head to the House of Jai Yoga, a wonderful studio and community space where you’ll get the best the Big Apple has to offer. Inside, you’ll find a nurturing environment where all are embraced for being their authentic self, without Judgment. Diverse class schedules, including express classes, kids and teen groups, and private tuition, plus complimentary therapies like nutrition, massage, acupuncture, and meditation. Oh, and if it’s retail therapy you’re after, the boutique is stocked with fantastic yoga apparel and equipment too. But what is ‘Jai’, you ask? Jai is an exclamation of joy used to describe incredible beauty or magnificence; it’s something you might say when you’ve overcome a fear or when reaching a new level of success after years of hard work. It translates as ‘victory of the soul’. It’s all the vision of mother and daughter team, Erin and Jeri Fogel, after attending a retreat with NYC instructor, Meg Carlough. Join the family and come home to the House of Jai
om beginnings Natural Born Beauty
Stay warm on the inside, whatever the weather. By Denise Leicester November is one of my favorite months: the festive madness is still at arm’s length, the light is low and golden, and I usually feel as fired up as the red and orange leaves that cling to the branches outside. For many in the UK, however, it’s the month that the inner fires start to wane, as winter takes hold and our emotional wellbeing dips in line with the temperature. But it needn’t be that way. There’s still a lot of fire around that we can draw on to fan our inner flames. Here are my seven top tips for keeping the chakras fired and healthy and your spirits ignited. l First (Root) Chakra. Place a warm water bottle on each kidney and a cold one on the abdomen, taking the time to rest, recharge and feel grounded. l Second (Sacral) Chakra. Indulge in childhood pleasures and playtime – kick some leaves, fly a kite – anything to bring a glowing, inner smile. l Third (Solar Plexus) Chakra. Nourish
your vital energy center with warming foods – hot ginger drinks, homemade soups and vibrant-colored fruits and vegetables. l Fourth (Heart) Chakra. Shower your entire being with love – from rich balms for your skin to taking the time to breathe more slowly and deeply. l Fifth (Throat) Chakra. Feed your sleep and dream center – go to bed early or indulge in some time snuggled on the sofa under a blanket. l Sixth (Third Eye) Chakra. Focus on the glow – light a candle, meditate on its flame, then close your eyes and focus on your third eye. l Seventh (Crown) Chakra. Give in to gratitude – each day, focus on one thing you feel grateful for, and dedicate any quiet time or meditation to this, helping grace flow with abundant fire. In summary, if you take a little time each day to rest, play, nourish, love, dream, see/
connect and express gratitude, it’ll help keep your inner strength burning bright right through the depths of winter.
Even though the days may be shorter, you can still focus on the sun and its energy. Embark on a week-long ‘warming’ challenge. Spend five minutes every day going through the twelve Sun Salutation movements, each day focusing on one chakra, so that by the end of the week you’ll have boosted all seven. Based on the above, this could be as simple as: I am (rest); I feel (play); I do (nourish); I love (love); I dream (sleep); I see (light); I know (gratitude). For a bonus boost, spend a few minutes a day engaged in Ujjayi breathing. Focus on each exhalation, inhaling up the spine and exhaling from the top of the head down the front of the body, warming the core, massaging the internal organs and bringing focus and energy.
Denise Leicester is the founder of ila-spa.com
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Planet yoga Stories from around the weird and wonderful world of yoga
USA UK Canada
Cats on mats
Dog yoga, or Doga, is so last season. Yoga fans are now taking along their cats to joint them on the mat. A studio in Vancouver recently invited feline-loving yogis to bring in their pets to class to raise money for charity. Kitties pawed and purred their way around Stretch Vancouver studios while participants did their stretches. The event was to raise funds for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), and was jointly organized by CatfĂŠ, which plans to open a cat cafe in Vancouver. Another Cats on Mats event is planned for January.
Yoga for arthritis
Yoga fans already know the benefits of stretching out on the mat, now scientists are picking up on it. A new study noted a 20% improvement in physical health among people with arthritis who practiced yoga three times a week. It also recorded similar improvements in pain, energy, mood and carrying out day-today activities and tasks. Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people around the world, causing pain and inflammation in joints. The research, published in the Journal of Rheumatology, included a group of 75 people with either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga therapy is gaining ground for a whole host of other illnesses and conditions too from MS to ME.
Mothercare has scrapped its yoga studios in favor of kidsâ€™ play zones. The company unveiled its latest 10,000 sq ft concept store in Manchester recently replacing the yoga studio idea with an in-store cafe, a soft play area and a revamped Early Learning Center toyshop. The overhaul is part of a broad corporate strategy to turn the company around. The yoga studios were only introduced three years ago but new management feel the space could be better used selling products. The group has so far launched play areas in six of its larger stores and around two in five of its shops will have cafes.
Hollywood actress Kate Hudson introduced TV action man Bear Grylls to a few Kundalini yoga moves during the making of his hit show Running Wild recently. The pair performed some stretches and breathing exercises together after waking up in the Italian Dolomites during a two-day survival test. Hudson and Grylls spent most of their time scaling down cliffs and exploring old wartime tunnels carved into the craggy mountainside. The actress – the daughter of Hollywood royalty Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell – also got the former SAS soldier to meditate. Other well-known figures to sign up to the Running Wild adventure series include President Barack Obama.
DS OF Y N E
Friends of Yoga Society International
Yoga Teacher Training Foundation Course 200 & 500 hour Qualiﬁcations
TEACH THE YOGA YOU LOVE Tutors throughout the UK
Officials in India have come up with a novel way to counter drought conditions that are undermining crops: do more yoga. India’s agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has been promoting the idea of ‘yogic’ farming, a technique he says will "empower seeds with the help of positive thinking." The idea is in keeping with the government’s determination to get more people, including civil servants, working out on the mat. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi that first floated the idea of an international yoga day which was adopted by the United Nations earlier this year. "Farmers should give vibrations of peace, love and divinity to seeds," to boost growth and make plants resistant to pests, Singh told a meeting of farmers and agricultural scientists in Delhi recently.
Beautiful things for beautiful people
New Elements – Moonchild One Piece, £58
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PHB Hair Mask with Monoi de Tahiti, £14.50 for 100g
PHB is a British family-run business that makes ethical organic beauty products by hand. All products are vegan, cruelty free and 100% naturally derived. Gardenia Flowers are handpicked for this sacred and ancient Polynesian oil and infused in coconut oil to create a unique blend renowned for its soothing, softening and strengthening qualities. Nourishes and reconditions for softer, stronger, healthier hair. phbethicalbeauty.co.uk
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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
Nahrin Patchouli-Jasmin Bath Essence, £20
An essence to sharpen the senses and enjoy special moments. Strengthens the soul, lifts spirits, balances emotions and boosts circulation. And its aphrodisiac effects make it an ideal essence to enjoy with your partner. JustUK.net
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 analyzis 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: Glasgow • starting October 2015 – July 2016 Bath • starting April 2016 – March 2017 London • starting October 2016 – July 2017 London Pilates & Gyrotonic Myofascial Movement Anatomy • October 2016 – August 2017
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An age-old mineral bathing remedy renowned globally for its amazing and wide-reaching benefits, Epsom salts by The Epsom Salts Company provide the ultimate post-yoga treat. A firm favorite with doctors, fitness trainers and celebrities alike (Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson are reported fans), Epsom salts are once again trending as a novel way to relieve aching muscles and sporting injuries while deeply relaxing the body and mind. Rich in magnesium, sulphate and other minerals, the salts also aid detoxification, improve problematic or aging skin and relax the nervous system. And its newly launching toiletries range, comprising a shower gel, soap and shampoo, enable busy people who don’t have time for a bath to benefit from the salts’ amazing curative benefits. Enjoy our 1kg bag of Epsom salts with accompanying jar, RRP £11.95, and feel any aches, pains and stresses melt away. For more information about Epsom salts or to order, visit The Epsom Salts Company at www.epsomsalts.co.uk or call 01707 443129.
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Feel the Burn
Twists and hip openers from our cover star, Eleonora Zampatti, to detox and release unnecessary holdings from both body and mind. In this Vinyasa yoga sequence, you will work with the elements of fire and water moving through grounding hip openers, and creative twists. Twist poses in yoga are related to the element of fire. They can help you eliminate tension from deep within your body and your mind. Twisting can help the muscles of the chest, back and shoulders to relax and, when combined with the right breathing and intentions, allow stress to leave the body.
Hip openers are related to the element of water. When your hip area is tense you might feel locked and maybe even weighted down. Working on releasing physical tensions in this area will help you connect to your vulnerability, learn how to surrender and let go of unnecessary holdings creating the physical and spiritual conditions to fully open your heart.
Model & sequence: Eleonora Zampatti (eleonorazampatti.com) Photos: Claire Sheprow (indorionphoto.com)
Seated Position In A Prayer Sit in a comfortable seated position, bring your hands in prayer in front of your heart. Start paying attention to your breath and set your intention for the practice,
Half Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana Variation 1)
Visualize a flame turning on in your navel and on the inhale lift your arms over your head, on the exhale turn your body to your right. Bring the left hand outside of the right knee, right and to touch the earth. Every inhale lift your spine and connect to your core, every exhale go deeper in your twist
Camel Variation (Ustrasana Variation)
Come back to a seated position reconnected to that flame burning in your navel and on the inhale lift your body to stand on your knees. Tuck your tailbone under, create a connection of ribs to hips, engage your legs by lifting your quads from your knees. Relax your shoulders and bring your hands on your lower back to support the opening of your heart. Slowly bring your right hand to touch your right ankle and on the exhale open your heart to the sun. To get out of the pose bring your hands on your lower back and slowly exit the pose. Repeat on the other side.
Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Come back to a seated position, on the next exhale empty your lungs. Bring both your hands on the mat, press your palms on the floor and on following your inhale slide your body in upward facing dog pose. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, keep your core engaged to open your heart protecting your lower back.
Down Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
On the next exhale shift your body up and back in your down facing dog. Establish a connection to mother earth with both hands and feet and at every exhale melt deeper in your heart. Bend your knee if your hamstring are tight so you can release tensions from your lower back. Inhale lift your right leg up, keep your hips squared to the ground and move your foot in between your hands.
Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
Lower the back knee on the floor, dig into your hips, your front knee can move over your toes. Inhale engage core and lift your hands in a prayer over your head. Stay in touch with your inner fire and on the exhale move your ribs away from your hip and visualize your heart shining to the sun.
7 Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Bring your hands back to the ground to frame your front foot. Inhale press your palms on the floor and exhale kick your front leg back into a three leg down dog. Engage your core and on the next inhale bring your knee into your chest to start then bring it on the floor inside your right wrist. Square your hips with the ground . Connect to your core, open our heart and find your pigeon pose. Maintaining a strong connection to your core will help you to stabilize your pelvis and protect your lower back
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Start in pigeon pose with your left knee bent slightly wider than your left hip and your right leg extending directly behind your right hip. Inhale, draw both legs toward one another for stability and bring your hands to your hips (or place your front hand on a block outside of your front hip). Actively square your hips to the front of the mat and find your balance. Bend your back knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks. Reach back with your right hand and hold onto the inner edge of your right foot. Take a few breaths and then slide the foot inside the crease of your elbow with your back toes pointing straight up. Inhale, reach your left arm up, bend the elbow and grab hold of the back of your head. If itâ€™s available, lock your fingers together. Lengthen your tailbone down and lift up through your chest. Take five breaths as you balance, lift and curl your heart up. Release into a forward fold.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana variation)
From Paschimottanasana come back to a seated position, bend your right knee and bring your right ankle on top of your left hipbone. If you have the flexibility do the same thing with your left foot too otherwise keep it on one side only. Inhale and on the exhale release the upper body on the ground. Get in touch with the heart and surrender at every exhale. Repeat the flow on the other side.
Beginner Anjaneyasana Begin in a lunge position with the back knee on the floor, and the front knee flexed at a 90 degree angle, with the knee aligned directly above the ankle. If you would like extra padding under the back knee, consider placing your yoga mat on top of a carpet or blanket, so as to give additional cushion and support.
Lift your chest, relax your shoulders down and away from your ears, and enjoy five cycles of ujayii pranayama. Imagine strength coming in to your body on the inhalation, and release all tension and stress with each exhale.
Intermediate Anjaneyasana Variation Slowly bring your hands or elbows to the floor and take a moment to allow your body some time to find comfort in this intense hip flexor stretch. If your lower back is healthy and strong, you can now consider allowing the front knee to turn out (externally rotate) to about a 45 degree angle. If you know that you have sensitivity or injury in the sacroiliac joint, then keep your knee pointed straight ahead. Take your time finding comfort in this pose, and remember that
intense hip and thigh stretches often activate the fight or flight response. Breathe deeply and try to observe any thoughts, feeling, or emotions that arise, with patience and grace. Your upper body should be relaxed and comfortable in this pose. There is a slight element of forward bend, which helps us to be a bit more introspective. Slow your breath down, slow your thoughts down, and enjoy the stretch in the lower body, as you soften and relax in the upper body.
Advanced Parivrtta Anjaneyasana The advanced variation of this pose includes a twist. Slowly bend your back knee, and bring the opposite hand to the back foot. You will be turning your chest towards the knee that is in front. Again, if your lower back is happy and healthy, allow the front knee to turn out to a 45 degree angle. If there is any pain whatsoever, keep your front knee pointed straight ahead. The twisting variation moves deeper into the hips and the lower back. Allow your gaze to turn skyward. This is a continuation of the spiraling energy that is created from the twist. In the practice of yoga, we are quite interested in ‘spiraling energy.’ The idea is that there is potential energy that is untapped at the base of the spine. As we
Model and Sequence: Desi Bartlett MS CPT E-RYT, creator of Gaiam’s ‘Prenatal Yoga Workout.’ (mothersintolivingfit.com) Photos: Natiya Guin (natiya.com)
breathe, elongate, and envision this serpentine-like spiral rising up the length of the spine, the energy rises to the crown, and can be fully realized. Remember to allow for a sense of playfulness. Asana practice in your living room is often practiced with children, or beloved family pets running in and out of the room. Allow your practice to be a source of joy and balance not just for you, but for all who enter the space in which you practice. In my personal practice, I have just one rule, ‘if you fall, you must laugh!’ Enjoy your strength, and flexibility with courage, confidence, and joy.
BodyYoga is the culmination of many years gathering expertise and knowledge at the BodyHoliday in order to create a Yoga programme to suit a wide range of needs. BodyYoga is about the pursuit of optimal wellness. Our aim is to find the right Yoga style for you and combine with sensible nutrition, therapies, relaxation and meditation. To learn more call +0203 096 1650 or visit www.thebodyholiday.com/activities/yoga
Photo: Robert Sturman (robertsturmanstudio.com)
Tao PorchonLynch One of yoga’s most inspirational characters, Tao Porchon-Lynch, 97, still holds regular classes in the New York area. Now the world’s oldest practicing yoga instructor, she has studied with yoga greats like BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. Oh, and you may have seen her on the hit TV show America’s Got Talent (see opposite) showing off her ballroom dancing skills too When did you start yoga When I was eight years old. I saw boys doing yoga on the beach and I joined in. I saw the joy in the faces of the young boys and knew that yoga was behind a lesson to be lived for everyone. Who inspired you in those early years My uncle and the great poet, Aurobindo in Pondicherry, India. Tell us about the style of yoga you teach Pattabhi Jois taught me how to breathe and BKS Iyengar taught me the proper alignment; they both inspired me. My own personal style is teaching the chakras, based on the breath of life. I follow the energy of the life force up the ladder of life, the chakra energy centers.
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga I love ballroom dancing and competing internationally. How do you fit your yoga and teaching around your life To me, yoga is the dance of the inner self and the lord of creation within us and ballroom dancing is the champagne and energy of life that sparkles outwardly. What are your hopes going forward My dream is to make the oneness of yoga and peace throughout the world. Why do you think people should take up yoga Health-wise, people need to practice yoga to get rid of all the negativity that is associated with health.
Photo: Teresa Kennedy (onewed.com)
Any favorite yoga moments I’ve got many throughout the world. Particularly when I’m working with the wonder of children.
â€œMy dream is to make the oneness of yoga and peace throughout the world.â€?
Photo: Katie Kaizer (katiekaizerphotography.com)
om body How have you seen the yoga world change Internationally, it’s become the healthy way to practice for men, women and children. Do you think yoga has helped you remain more youthful Yoga and ballroom dancing has made me more aware of the life energy in my body. Do you have a personal motto that inspires you Nothing is impossible. There is nothing you cannot do. When you wake up in the morning, know that it’s going to be the best day of your life. Any messages to pass on to younger teachers or students Both teachers and students must know that nothing is impossible. They need to have a positive outlook on life and not let negative thoughts enter their mind. We can accomplish anything. Anything else Let the beauty of nature inspire you. A wonderful sunrise is a promise that it will be a beautiful day. Feel the oneness in a beautiful smile and the whole world will react to the good in all people.
Discover more about the wonderful Tao Porchon-Lynch at: taoporchon-lynch.com
THE AMAZING TAO PORCHON-LYNCH Tao Porchon-Lynch was born in 1918 and has over 70 years of yoga practice and more than 45 years of teaching yoga to students in India, France and the US, where she now lives.
She has also spent years living in India and studied with yoga greats such as Indra Devi and Aurobindo and BKS Iyengar in Pune and Mumbai. Before teaching yoga, Porchon-Lynch had a long and varied media career. She was an actress in England, France and the USA (under contract to MGM) in the 1940s and 50s, wrote screenplays and made documentaries in the 60s and 70s. Her documentaries in India include ‘To Light A Candle’, about 100-year-old philanthropist, Dr Welthy Fisher and her work in education and literacy in Lucknow. She also worked for Unitel and helped in their efforts to try to introduce television to India back in the 1950s. Porchon-Lynch continues to teach workshops at many US yoga centers including the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan and the Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, Buckingham, Virginia. She has also trained and certified hundreds of yoga instructors since founding her Westchester Institute of Yoga back in 1982. And she has made over 25 trips to India with her students because she believes that such visits offer enlightenment about the true spirit of yoga.
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Get strong, yoga strong. Six postures for building strength, by Lynsey Riach
e all know yoga offers a myriad of health benefits but getting strong is not one that springs to mind for most people. But for me, now in my 34th year, I can honestly say my body’s never been so resilient. I suffered injury last year, which kept me off my mat for six whole weeks – and that’s not pretty for any regular yoga practioner. I thought I would lose everything I had worked so hard for but my body bounced back from recovery to become stronger. Why? Because it has been trained to do so. Yoga is more than just stretching and relaxation. Daily yoga practice includes a comprehensive system that builds strength in the body and mind so when it takes some time off, it’s okay with that. It knows you’ll be back. And although I practice yoga every single day, that doesn’t mean I spend hour after hour on my mat; in fact, I just do a few simple morning yoga stretches. Making a routine of moving and stretching your body regularly will make you feel flexible, and, when flexible, we feel stronger.
Flexibility and strength
So let’s understand then the role of flexibility in strength. Strength coaches have realized that yoga’s ability to free up a locked body is unmatched. A lot of exercises people perform in a gym are muscle shortening (contraction). With a lot of repetition a huge range of motion can be lost. Then, although the muscles have a lot of power, this strength cannot be used effectively because the length of the muscle is restricted. It’s like trying to drive a car with a powerful engine while your foot is on the brakes. If you don’t train flexibility, you lose it. And I see this often in the variety of students that walk through my studio door. So many reasons can bring people to try yoga and to practice it long term. Some come to gain greater flexibility and some to heal injuries or enhance their performance. I have worked with jockeys, runners, dancers and bodybuilders, and although I have seen men with defined muscles and clear strength, a lot of them can’t even straighten their legs to touch their toes. Flexibility is essentially the ability of the muscles to lengthen across a joint or group of joints. It’s also often referred to as range of motion. A lack of flexibility will increase the likelihood of injury because if you don’t have the required range of motion to perform a particular
om body action, then you will force it to happen through improper alignment or inefficient biomechanics. This will lead to instability and the likelihood of injury. For example, if you can’t get extension in the upper back, you’ll create it through the shoulder and this will create laxity, which then hinders performance when applying strength and increases the chance of tearing the muscles or ligaments. So flexibility feeds into proper range of movement, which feeds into proper stability, which in turn feeds into proper force output. And because yoga has a deep understanding of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, physiotherapists often recommend it to their clients as they know that an intelligent practice can deal in a more holistic way with pain and rehab than many other methods.
Yoga for strength
But how can yoga make you strong? Yoga develops your stability because you create with your body a less stable shape on a stable surface. The object you are pushing against – the earth – is stable, but many yoga postures are shapes that will challenge your body to stabilize itself. This is called a OM6_SEP15_178X117_V1_LDN:Layout 1 closed chain movement. By holding shapes
with your body that have a narrow base of support (such as tree pose which requires you to stand on one leg) it will massively strengthen your stabilizer muscles. Lifting a weight requires some stability, but because the body will generally have a wider base of support, and you are moving an external object, it is the prime movers that are the major muscles working. This is called an open chain movement. Research shows that this is one of the major benefits of using your body weight as resistance – your body develops an extremely high amount of stability and control. Stability is extremely important. Force output is limited by the extent that you can stabilize. If you can’t stabilize, you won’t be able to apply force. For example, for a shot-putter, the best predictor exercise is the bench press. This exercise indicates how far they’re going to be able to throw a shot-put. In bench pressing, your ability to apply force through the chest and triceps, which are the prime movers, is limited by your ability to stabilize the scapulas. If you practice hand balancing yoga postures such as handstand then you strengthen your stabilizing muscles and therefore your bench press weight goes up significantly, 9/18/15 2:54 PM Page 1 and the further you can throw a shot-put.
And for those in love with Vinyasa, you’ll know that the repetitive patterns of downward dog right through to up-dog present a key part of the puzzle for getting strong. You can apply the method of repeat effort to help achieve your maximal strength. So next time you decide to practice, tune into your strength by really focusing on each asana mindfully. Locate and focus on the area in your body this asana is challenging and pay attention to how this makes you feel. But remember, it isn’t always just the physical body that becomes stronger – regular practice can strengthen and sharpen our minds too.
Turn the page for the 6 postures
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Six postures for building strength, by Lynsey Riach
1. Extended Hand To Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
Starting in mountain pose, bring your left hand to your hip for balance and find a focal point to concentrate on. Slowly bring your right leg towards your belly, bending the knee hooking the finger to the big toe. Extend your leg out to the side, opening the hip, remaining straight and upright with no bend in your spine. Standing leg is firm, but knee is not locked. This strengthens control in your mind, standing leg and promotes flexibility in the hip socket and hamstrings. Hold for 3-5 breaths then repeat on the other side.
3. Wildthing (Camatkarasana)
From downdog, bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot like side plank. On an inhalation, lift your hips and carefully â€˜flipâ€™ yourself over by staying strong in your right hand and stepping your left foot back. Place your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent. Curl back through your upper back to create a sweeping action of the shoulder blades into the back of the rib cage. On an inhalation lift your hips higher until you curl more into a backbend whilst extending your left arm away from your heart. Stay for 3-5 breaths on each side promoting a stronger back and hip flexors with each time you practice this extension.
2. Downdog Split (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Position your hands and hips shoulder width apart, pushing back pelvis to relax into this calming pose. Gently extend your right leg upwards and point the toe to extend further. Feel your hip open and leg stretch out as your back and shoulders become stronger each time you practice this pose. Stay here anywhere from 3-5 breaths before switching legs.
Feel free to use blocks or not in this pose. Moving back from Wildthing, draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor. Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft. Engage and strengthen your abdominals holding for 3-5 breaths.
5. Lifted Lotus (Tolasana)
Using blocks (or books) for extra stability. Begin by placing your palms upon your props. Cross your legs in lotus pose or if your hips and knees wonâ€™t let you do lotus, just cross your legs at your ankles or keep toes together and draw your knees together towards your chest. As you inhale, engage your abs and gently push into the blocks whilst you lift your body off the ground, hovering in that position. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths to train and gain strength in your shoulders, arms and abs.
6. Wide Legged Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
Finish this sequence in this calming yet strengthening pose. Begin crossed legged and extend both legs out as far as they will land. Press your hands against the floor and slide your buttocks forward, rotate your thighs outwardly, pinning the outer thighs against the floor, so that the knee caps point straight up toward the ceiling. Reach out through your heels and stretch your soles, pressing though the balls of the feet, toes are flexed upwards. As you exhale, slowly walk your hands forward between your legs. Keep your arms long in front of your body or if possible to each foot by touching toes. Head is either on the ground or supported by a prop such as a blanket or block. Feel your inner thighs stretch whilst staying in this pose for 3-5 breaths.
7 om body
WHY YOGA IS
Yoga is a great way to counter the effects of aging and the menopause, writes Cheryl MacDonald
he number of women who begin practicing yoga after the age of 50 is on the rise. And for good reason. Many realise that yoga is the perfect way to reduce and often eliminate the discomforts associated with menopause and aging. Here are some of the great ways that it can help.
IT LOWERS STRESS
Yoga helps to control breathing, which, in turn, reduces anxiety. It also clears negative feelings and thoughts from the mind leading to a reduction of depression. It is a proven effective method to reduce and control anger. When practicing yoga regularly the overall sense of calmness increases and, as a result, a happier, stress-free life can be enjoyed.
IT EASES PHYSICAL PAIN AND DISCOMFORT
Aches and pains associated with menopause can be eased along with any back pain, chronic pain or neck pain you may be experiencing. A gentle practice of flowing Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) helps to increase flexibility in the joints and works every muscle in the body – a complete physical and emotional workout. Try 5-10 rounds per day. Even if you don’t have time for any other yoga, you will experience dramatic relief from general aches and pains.
IT REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE
A common symptom during the menopause is night sweats. Regular yoga practice reduces high blood pressure and promotes oxygenation and blood circulation in the body, in turn, easing the terrible night sweats. Savasana (corpse pose) is perfect for allowing yourself to relax and just bring your attention to the breath. By taking our focus away from the stresses and strains of the outside world, we focus on what’s happening now, thereby managing any anxieties.
IT DECREASES THE HASSLES OF HOT FLUSHES
During the menopause, hot flushes are caused by an excess of pitta (fire) in the body and that has to come out. General asanas (yoga postures) that help include Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana (half bound lotus pose), Ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose) and Supta padmasana (reclined or sleeping lotus pose). Movements should be slow and weight-bearing, paying close attention to the rhythm of the breath and position of the tongue to the roof of the palate during practice. This allows the mind to become calm and to stabilize.
IT’S A NATURAL REMEDY
Yoga is a fantastic and natural way to help alleviate the pain associated with the menstrual cycle. So many women suffer in silence, or take endless pills, but yoga is an ideal way to soothe the symptoms, something you can do in a group class or in the comfort of your own home. It helps bring you to a calmer place, emotionally and physically.
IT’S EVEN BETTER WHEN COMBINED WITH AROMATHERAPY
Yoga and aromatherapy have physical, mental and spiritual benefits, therefore it becomes logical to use aromatherapy when practicing. Not only are your senses enthralled by the beautiful aromas during your practice, the focus and effects of your mat time are intensified by the therapeutic use of the essential oil blends. Healing benefits of aromatherapy oils include releasing old or negative emotions; experiencing a detoxifying or cleansing feeling; soothing tense muscles; helping to balance hormonal fluctuations or even helping to realign the chakras and promote feelings of calm and peace.
YOGA IS GREAT FOR THE JOINTS
Yoga has been proven to help people suffering from problems associated with joints, such as arthritis. While not all menopausal women will have arthritis, it’s a health concern that’s often associated with aging. Research from the USA shows that practicing Hatha yoga can help to ease joint pain, fatigue and other related symptoms. The small study involved women aged 21-35 that, on average, had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 10 years. After six weeks, the group that practiced yoga said they were happier than when they started and could better accept and manage their pain. The women were also reported better general health and more energy. EASY POSE Yoga positions that are particularly useful to learn when it comes to soothing the menopause includes Sukkhasana, or easy pose. Sit crosslegged on your mat with your eyes closed. Take three deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow your mind to rest. Acknowledge the thoughts as they pass through your mind and just bring your attention to the breath. And relax. Cheryl MacDonald is the founder of YogaBellies (yogabellies.co.uk)
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7 pages on the softer side of yoga
LESSISMORE Life doesn’t have to be a fight to the bitter end – and nor does yoga. Sometimes it’s good to take things nice and slow
here’s plenty of dynamic yoga out there nowadays to sculpt bodies and captivate your Instagram followers. These fast-paced yoga styles are great workouts – but they are not for everyone. Sometimes it pays to slow things down, to take a breath and to really tune in to the smallest of movements. This can provide the time and space for a student to truly feel their body and it’s subtle movements perhaps for the very first time. Here, we explore the ‘less is more’ concept and show that on the yoga mat, as in life, simplicity can sometimes be everything.
ENJOYTHEPROCESS When less effort creates more ease. By Catherine Annis
ecently, a student came to me concerned about her yoga practice. It was at the end of my annual retreat, during which I’d focused on teaching the gentle, gradual unfolding yoga inspired by the work of Vanda Scaravelli. My student confided that the experience had made her rethink her approach to yoga. She’d increasingly found her regular (strong, dynamic) practice a struggle: “My body just doesn’t like working that hard. I used to think that I just needed to practice more to improve, but I already practice six days a week, and now I’m beginning to wonder whether I just need to slow down and change the way I’m working altogether”.
om special Scaravelli-inspired yoga, as she had discovered, is not about quantity of work, it’s about the quality. When we do less, we learn to feel more, and our bodies reap the benefits as they soften and yield, becoming more supple and elastic. In a typical class, we work in simple positions, examining each one deeply, carefully observing how it affects us. As we slow down and take our time, the body gradually lets go and releases, inviting us to move more deeply in the pose, unfolding until the movement becomes light, spacious and, ultimately, easy. The key to this style is in understanding that we cannot force a release; we can only invite it. As Vanda herself explained in her book, Awakening the Spine: “You have to learn how to listen to your body, going with it and not against it, avoiding all effort or strain. You will be amazed to discover that, if you are kind to your body, it will respond in an incredible way.”
“The key to this style is in understanding that we cannot force a release; we can only invite it.”
More people are beginning to gravitate towards this approach, as they realise the benefits of slowing down, and giving the body time to respond. With less effort, there is less strain (and therefore fewer opportunities for injury) and the body becomes more resilient and responsive. During practice, we give ourselves all the time we need to unwind and gradually let go of any unnecessary tension. Students are often surprised by how much further they can go into the postures when they are patient and follow the body, rather than pushing or pulling. Sometimes we may spend a whole session focusing on just one area of the body. Working with the feet, we look at how the heel stretches away from the mid foot, creating lift and space through the arches and domes. Then, when we come into one of the balancing poses, (like tree, for instance) we discover new connections between the sole of the foot, the toes, and the floor. Our legs wake up, we notice how the muscles of the feet and legs stretch all the way up into the pelvis, into the diaphragm, along the length of the spine, eventually opening out through the shoulders and arms.
Many students have found that attention to detail and focus on alignment has helped them enormously when recovering from injuries. Vanda Scaravelli pioneered a change in the standing poses to make them more accessible to the Western anatomy. With the blessing of BKS Iyengar, her first teacher, she began to work in a shorter and wider stance in Trikonasana, with parallel feet, which protects the sacrum and encourages a focus on the lengthening and rotation in the spine. Those who previously suffered with sacroiliac joint issues in poses are routinely amazed to find that they find a new ease and pleasure once they adopt her approach. As we begin to take joy in the delicate unwinding of long held tensions, and become more sensitive, we naturally become more interested in the process, rather than the end result. As another of my students remarks: “I’ve found that the less ‘exciting’ poses bring me to a deeper understanding of what is actually good for my body. I no longer feel I have to perfect everything or ‘do all the poses in the book’ to be a teacher. It has definitely been a case of ‘less is more’ for me.”
With less effort comes a lot more fun, says Daniel Gelblum
ith less effort comes a lot more fun. Yet in over 20 years of intensive yoga and Feldenkrais practice and teaching, it has always been clear to me that reducing effort is the most difficult part of yoga. When we reduce effort, and increase sensitivity, we can begin to understand ourselves - who we really are. We can begin to differentiate between comfort and discomfort. For many people, comfort is collapsing into a yoga posture, hogging a sun lounger on holiday or sinking into a sofa with the body as lifeless and inelegant as a cowpat splatting onto a field. This is what many people consider relaxation. Only the opposite is actually true. Being so immobile actually disturbs the nervous system and stresses the body. What really gives us great vitality is to
learn to rest when moving (not just rest in a posture - whether yoga, martial arts postures or siting at your work desk). This we can then transfer into everyday life: getting out of bed, walking, going to work, washing up etc. We can also develop better habits in yoga and restfully be still or mobile in any posture and at the same time be ready to move. We are designed to move.
And yet it’s not easy to reduce effort. So how do we go about doing it? It is so ingrained in us to make everything an effort. In our struggle to be just like everyone else, we compete with each other and even ourselves - sometimes in yoga classes. In school we are taught to work hard and that if we don’t we are losers. In reality, when we are sensitive and open ourselves up to understanding, learning becomes easier,
more natural. Parents and teachers tell us “you could be someone, but only if you try hard. Look at the other pupils. They sit, do as they are told and work hard”. So we are taught that to be as good as the next person requires constant effort, constant work. And this persists throughout our life. We can never work hard enough, and we are never good enough. We become conditioned to make effort even if it is unnecessary, wasteful, stressful and detrimental for self image. With a constant focus on effort, there is little room for fun. And in yoga practice I see this every day: too much focus and effort on the appearance of the body in postures and moving in and out of postures, instead of concentrating on how one feels while moving. From a physical point of view the stronger we try to look in a yoga asana, the weaker and more disorganized we are. This is very
om special noticeable in martial arts too. All this is best to experience through the body rather than through reading these words, of course. So remember next time you practice that by learning to move more gently in yoga, the important fun can really begin.
With increased sensitivity and awareness of muscles that work too hard we can learn to reduce unnecessary muscular tension and stiffness. This also results in a huge increase of benefits from the postures as we can breathe softly, mobilizing previously stiff parts of the body. We can then begin to take advantage of the body’s amazing abilities to improve itself through gentle often meditative movements, allowing the brain to detect and reduce unnecessary, counterproductive posture limiting effort. Discovering gentle movements - impossible if too many muscles are working too hard - can take us into asana with much less effort and this also gives us many more possibilities within the asana. Of course, aerobic fitness and resistance training can be very beneficial for our selforganization, circulation, general fitness
and mental focus. However, too much effort can be counterproductive to a more wellrounded holistic relationship with health, for example top weight lifters may lose agility when it comes to running. With Feldenkrais for yoga, the benefits are incredible. The slow, gentle approach lowers the danger of creaky movement patterns and helps us to develop greater self-awareness. This benefits us physically and mentally far beyond the benefits of the
movement or the posture itself. The brain can then begin to make millions of new connections. When we try too hard, the brain focuses on the resulting discomfort or pain. When we reduce efforts and pay attention to how we move, the brain and body thrives, so our muscles, bones, joints, connective tissues, fascia, nervous system, organs, glands and the whole self can function holistically together, spreading the effort of yoga through the whole of oneself.
GOOD ADVICE REDUCING EFFORT IS ESSENTIAL TO BRING US CLOSER TO PATANJALI’S ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION OF YOGA: “Postures should be steady and comfortable, easeful and joyful, but also relaxed without dullness and alert without tension at the same time”. LAO TZU (604-531BC) SUMS IT UP BRILLIANTLY TOO: “The living is soft and yielding. The dead are rigid and stiff. Living plants are flexible and tender. The dead brittle and dry. Those who are stiff and rigid are the disciples of death. Those who are soft and yielding are the disciples of life. The rigid and stiff will be broken. The soft and yielding will overcome.” So less effort, please. And a lot more fun!
MOBILITYANDMOVEMENTFLOW Step back and focus your attention on basic and essential movements for big rewards. By Ulric Whyte
he current unprecedented popularity of yoga in our cities, towns and high streets is to be welcomed with open arms. Never before in the West have so many people had access to high quality yoga teaching, a SmĂśrgĂĽsbord of class styles, and the personal transformation that is facilitated by a regular and sustained practice. Yet, within the popularity of dynamic yoga, hot yoga and their hybrid cousins, there is always going to be the potential for
om special some fallout. Inexperienced yoga students or those no longer in their 20s and 30s can find these physically challenging classes unapproachable or beyond their current capabilities. This may result in dropping out of class after a few visits, potentially dropping yoga altogether or, in the worst case scenario, developing a yoga-related injury. Mainstream classes in our busy urban yoga centers can have high numbers of students in the class and a seamless flow of postures threaded onto the teacher’s breath count; potentially creating too intense an environment for a student to gauge if their body has the prerequisite strength and flexibly to safely practice what is being instructed.
Go with the flow
Taking a step back with an understanding that ‘less is more’ can often help both new and more experienced students develop a better understanding of their body and its current movement potential. In the Mobility and Movement Flow classes I teach, adequate time is spent preparing the major joints of the body to be able to handle the ranges of motion and joint strength that are required in a dynamic and flowing yoga class. Healthy ranges of motion within a joint (that are often woefully missing in the general working population due to sedentary living and working environments) are first created with simple mobility drills before strength at these newly increased ranges of motion is added. The necessity for joint range of motion and strength would seem to be pretty obvious yet in the midst of our weekday evening yoga class we may fail to consider what we are asking from our joints. Do we over extend our hips in poses such as Warrior 2 and Pigeon or can we maintain the structural integrity and muscular activation that is going to keep our joints safe and health over decades of practice? Once the joints have been ‘bullet-proofed’ with simple mobility work, movement skill acquisition is promoted with mindful movement flows and patterns. Basic developmental patterns of rolling, rocking and crawling (quadrupedal
“Never before in the West have so many people had access to high quality yoga teaching.”
locomotion) are explored along with the basic foundational skills of squatting, pushing, pulling and hanging. From this platform of mobility and strength, more complex movement flows and yoga sequences can be explored safely.
The handstand challenge
Returning to another example of a very popular yoga pose, we might consider the Handstand. Many yoga students pursue development of a personal Handstand practice with great enthusiasm, and dedicated arm balance classes or workshops now feature in our urban boutique yoga centers. Handstand has become a popular and often taught pose in dynamic yoga classes as it offers many benefits including those of all inversions coupled with upper body strength development, fearlessness and physical grace or mastery. Oftentimes it is taught early in a class sequence and with little wrist, elbow or shoulder preparation. There is something to be said for simply giving a posture a go with an open mind and using a wall or assistant to help us up into handstand in this case. Yet if we arrive at our Handstand practice classes with a limited ability to extend our wrists, an elbow lacking joint stability in a weight bearing scenario and inadequate shoulder rotator cuff strength (four small muscles in the region of the shoulder blade that make up the greatest fraction of our shoulder strength) – it is likely to only be a matter of time before we run into some difficulty, dysfunction or pain.
By taking a step back in our practice and spending a little time and energy on basic and essential movements and movement patterns, be they from Feldenkrais, Qi Gong, Pilates or any movement practice that encourages the development of a kinaesthetic awareness or ‘felt sense’ – the rewards of better physical organization and effortless skill in movement will become permanent qualities within our bodies. By supplementing our weekly yoga classes with short movement ‘snacks’ of a few minutes, repeated several times a day during work breaks, we can rapidly improve our mobility and help protect the most injury prone areas of the body.
About the authors: Catherine Annis, Daniel Gelblum and Ulric Whyte all teach regular classes at The Life Center (thelifecenter.com)
YOGA THERAPY Vertigo
Practical yoga therapy The Problem The Solution Vertigo is the sensation that the world Vertigo is usually caused by a problem with the techniques to start you around you is spinning out of control, or that way balance works in the inner ear, although things are moving about. The severity can it can also be caused by problems in certain on the road to health: range from a person barely noticing it, to parts of the brain. This doesnâ€™t need to be physically, mentally, more debilitating amounts which stop you seen as scary, as many of these symptoms doing your daily activities. Other symptoms over time. However, yoga and emotionally and spiritually. include a loss of balance, dizziness, and/or disappear focused breathing techniques will help to feeling sick. ground and rebalance the healing energies By Sarah Swindlehurst you have within, and thus promote symptoms to ease.
Yoga Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Start kneeling with your bottom on your heels. You may part the knees if you prefer. Inhale and lengthen up through the spine whilst keeping the shoulders relaxed. Exhale and slowly fold forwards, placing the forehead on the ground in front. Bring the arms to the sides of the body, with the palms facing upwards. Close your eyes. Hold this posture for up to 10 breaths and then on your inhale come up and out of the pose. Sit with your eyes closed for a while longer, place your hands over your eyes and open the fingers, then open the eyes when you are ready and blink a few times. Affirmation: I accept myself in every moment (inhale/exhale)
Yoga Easy Tree Posture (Vrksasana)
Start standing focusing just on your breath. Inhale and bring the right foot up so that the heel rests on the inside of the left inner ankle. The toes of the foot remain on the floor and the right knee points out to the right side. Exhale and then inhale bring the hands together at the heart center. Stay here and focus on the healing Earth energy, draw it up though the feet and legs and allow it to strengthen and heal your whole being. Repeat twice on each side. Affirmation: I am secure and present (inhale/exhale)
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Massage Head Massage
To stimulate the neurovascular system: start by pressing around the head with the fingers and thumb pads, giving each point a little rub. Then gently massage all around the base of the skull with your thumbs, with your fingers still pushing into head. Next use your thumb and first finger to squeeze the bridge of the nose and all along the rim. Then with the first two fingers, make circular motions at the sides of the head above the cheek bones, moving to the cheekbones, to the jaw line and then using the whole hands to massage the neck and shoulders. Do this for as long as you need to and as often as you like.
feeling unsafe and insecure in some way, with many thoughts going round and around in your mind. This symptom is telling you to reground yourself and to stop rushing about (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) quite so much. Practice grounding yoga postures and breathing techniques to calm and earth you. Meditate on the ‘now’ and be present in yourself also. The answers will come to you when you stop and ground yourself for a while.
Sarah Swindlehurst is the founder of The Yogic Prescription (theyogicprescription.com)
Pranayama Nutrition Alternate Nostril Breathing Eating a well balanced diet helps a person to maintain their wellbeing and health. (Nadi Shonana) Begin sitting with your back straight. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Now, position your hand over your nose, have the thumb over the right nostril, the first two fingers over the third eye (center of forehead) and the last two fingers over the left nostril. Start by closing the right nostril and breathing in through the left. Then close the left nostril and breathe out through the right nostril. After the exhalation, breathe in through the same nostril (right) and then close that nostril and breathe out through the left. Repeat as above. Breathe like this for up to nine rounds – starting and finishing on the left.
Eat a variety of fresh (organic if possible) vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins and good fats (such as olive oil, coconut oil, hemp, flaxseed) in every meal, and drink 1.5 – 2 liters of fluid per day to keep yourself hydrated. Supplement with multi vitamins and vitamin D.
What your body is saying
This symptom indicates an imbalance in your life, and whether it is personal, environmental, or professional you need to focus on getting yourself into balance. It is possible that you have or are struggling to accept the way things are, and that you are
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Yoga A-Z O is for OM. By Carole Moritz
The actual sound of ‘Om’ (often pronounced ‘Aum’) is broken down into three parts, according to BKS Iyengar: "The letter ‘A’ symbolizes the conscious or waking state,” Iyengar writes, “the letter ‘U’ the dream state, and the letter ‘M’ the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit.” In its totality as a symbol, Om stands for the “realization of man’s divinity within himself.” Often chanted to open and close a yoga practice, ‘Om’ is that universal sound that connects us all – from cows to ants, from Albert Einstein to you to me, from beings past to beings yet to come. I’ve never been big on chanting. This goes back to my suburban church-going days
as a kid. There was an acceptable volume of singing hymns to show praise and glory. So I was always careful not to get too loud. I would hold my hymn book (Come Thou Fount was always a favorite) and follow along sedately humming. The ones that did cross the boundary lines were usually the old ladies that had been parishioners for decades. I loved those women. They knew they were off key, they knew they were loud, but they just didn’t care. They sang those hymns with a full heart of recognition of the divinity within themselves, and a sensing of a bigger connection. I found their singing embarrassing, soothing and uplifting in equal measure. Then
I discovered the freedom of gospel music and it was like my brain exploded. Go big or go home when singing Praise the Lord and Hallelujah. Can I get an a-men? Sitting on my mat in the back row of class (just like I did in church) I am often just like those old ladies in church. My voice cracks, sometimes I switch keys mid-Om. And I don’t care. Because yoga doesn’t care if my ‘Om’ is too soft or too loud. Most times, I just listen and soak up the energy of the Om’s around me. And I get it. I get what those dear old church ladies were singing about. When we ‘Om’, when we sing, we are tapping into a rhythmic vibration of everything that ever was and ever will be.
OMFM OM FOR MEN
Inside: Page 64: Man on the mat Page 65: Lifeâ€™s great up north Page 66: A life in pictures
Photo: Amy Goalen (amygoalen.com) Yogi: Derek Cook (senseiderek.com)
MAN ON THE MAT
Man on the mat with Jhon Tamayo
Extended Bound Side Angle Pose (Utthita Baddha Parsvakonasa)
In extended bound side angle pose the leg muscles, hip joints and spine become more elastic. This pose strengthens and opens the upper thighs and the groin, while providing the necessity for a lift in the shoulders and opening up the chest as well. It also tones the abdominal muscles and the core of the body.
The common mistakes that students make when practicing this pose are that the back leg collapses on the inner ankle, the front leg is not bent ninety degrees with the knee over the ankle, and that the ribcage must be lifted over the front thigh in order to maintain a straight spine.
n H aving an Atmananda Yoga mat will decrease the changes of getting injured in this pose. If you have such a mat, the back foot is stabilized behind the fourth line, perpendicular with the center line, while the front foot is parallel to the center line. n G azing at the back foot allows proper spinal alignment and a safe twist. Rotating the back foot, as to not collapse on the inner ankle and press the outer edges of the foot into the mat, bring more stability to the pose as well.
The gaze of the eyes is on the back foot, which allows for awareness of our subconscious mind for stability, trust, strength and integrity. The awareness of whatâ€™s going on in the more passive states of our body and mind allows for more conscious movements and thought, of which yoga facilitates.
Life’s great up north Jonathan Schofield heads north for a change of scenery It’s not always how you do it, but where you do it. And, sometimes it adds a little spice, interest, and edge to do it outdoors in unusual places. So, with a few days to myself in the far reaches of the great north I set off to into a remote part of Scotland’s Grampian Mountains to explore some ancient stone circles. I’ve done this before, but not since starting out on my yoga journey. If, like me, you spend a lot of time on London’s underground, staring at computer screens in vast offices and sitting for long periods every day, it’s a terrific antidote to be able to head out and embrace all that fresh air and wide, open space. Yoga in a village hall, or in an office meeting room where most of my yoga sessions now take place, is okay; it keeps the back from seizing up and the demons from my mind, but as environments go, neither are particularly invigorating places. But if it’s an invigorating place you’re looking for, head for the Grampian Mountains. Some time ago I took a dog I’d rescued from the Australian outback for a five day walk across the Grampians – one of the most meditative, cathartic experiences of my life – until said Australian dog brought down a stag on Royal land (that dog is now long gone and the stag incident fine paid off!). And so I set off across a familiar rugged land towards the Tomnaverie stone circle. Surrounded by ancient stone put in place by Neolithic people some 4,000 years ago, I sat in the center of the circle and went through my rather limited yoga repertoire. Sun on my back, a gentle, sweet, pine-scented breeze drifting down from the mountains – this is as far away from the everyday life of commuting and work as you can possibly get. The complete silence, under a big sky, was perfect for meditation, something I usually struggle with. There are more than 100 stone circles in this part of Scotland. If you’re looking for somewhere different to invigorate your yoga then head for the Grampian stone circles…but do it soon, it’s getting cold up there now.
A LIFE IN PICTURES American photographer Michael O’Neill has spent nearly 50 years capturing on camera some of the world’s most famous and iconic people, from the Dalai Lama to Andy Warhol. A certified yoga instructor himself, he has immersed himself in the culture of yoga for the past decade, photographing well-known teachers in India and around the globe including the late BKS Iyengar. Here, we present some of his finest work from a new book, On Yoga: The Architecture Of Peace All photos © 2015 Michael O’Neill/TASCHEN
Ganges Prayer, H. H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. Rishikesh, March 4, 2006
Swami Ramdevji in padmasana (lotus pose) and Moumita Kar in natarajasana (dancing Shiva pose). Haridwar, November 4, 2007
13th and Hudson, niralamba shirshasana (handsfree headstand), Dharma Mittra. New York City, November 3, 2006
FM Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa at her most holy of places, the Golden Temple. Amritsar, India, February 23, 2006
Michael Oâ€™Neill and B. K. S. Iyengar. Pune, India, March 9, 2006
Donna Karan. Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos, November 21, 2006
On Yoga: The Architecture Of Peace Michael O’Neill Taschen £44.99
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Are you a highly sensitive yogi? (And why that’s a good thing). By Stella Tomlinson
ver heard these before: “Don’t be so sensitive” or “You need to be more thick-skinned” or “Don’t be a spoil sport” or “You’re so highly strung”? Have you been on the receiving end of such comments? Did they feel painful? Do they still feel hurtful? If so, perhaps you’re craving for quiet-time, to withdraw from the world sometimes, to daydream and enjoy your rich inner life. And yet, this can feel totally at odds with a society which values and rewards assertiveness, always being sociable and willing to network, and pushing yourself harder each and every day. You may have tried yoga to feed this need for calmness. Or maybe you tried a strenuous yoga class and felt totally discombobulated by the experience. Instead, perhaps you’re drawn to gentle, introspective yoga, to mindfulness and meditation, because it gives you the quiet, ‘me-time’ you so crave.
Highly sensitive people
This is certainly true for me. I love peace and quiet. I love to sit and think and feel
and daydream. I have a vivid imagination. I’m easily overwhelmed by noise and bright lights and being around a lot of people I don’t know so I tend to avoid large gatherings or come across as quiet and reserved when I’m in them. I also have a very busy mind which notices all that’s going on around me. I need my time alone each day. I need my slow mindful yoga, my relaxation, my meditation – and if I don’t get it I wind up anxious, drained and utterly exhausted.
“About 15-20% of the population have a nervous system which is more sensitive to their surroundings and stimuli.” So, what’s wrong with me? Absolutely nothing. This craving for quiet is an innate characteristic. It’s about how my nervous system works. About 15-20% of the population have a nervous system which is more sensitive to their surroundings and stimuli. I’m what’s
termed as a highly sensitive person (HSP). According to the research of psychologist Dr Elaine Aron (in her book The Highly Sensitive Person) if you tend to be very aware of the subtleties in your environment, if you pick up on other people’s moods, if you need quiet time on very busy days or if you’re sensitive to caffeine, then you may be a HSP. If you’re overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, if you startle easy, if you have a rich inner life, then you may be a HSP too. This all makes me think of a time last year when I was at a family birthday party full of rampaging toddlers and people I didn’t know very well, all in a relatively small space. I ended up having to go upstairs to have a nap, I was so exhausted. At the time I thought it was a bit weird – now it makes total sense.
Take it slow
So, as a keen yogini and yoga teacher of slow, flowing, calming Dru Yoga, I have a hunch that those of us drawn to this more meditative style are highly sensitive – we need the slower, mindful approach to bring our overtaxed nervous systems into balance.
Getting sweaty, moving quickly from one pose to another, physically pushing the body to its limits is just too overstimulating. You wind up feeling dizzy, exhausted, and anxious – it’s not in tune with your needs. A calming yoga practice lights you up: it enables you to notice the subtleties of feeling in your body and breath and your thoughts as they change from moment to moment; it allows your nervous system to rest. Meditation and mindfulness give you the quiet-time to observe your thoughts allowing the mind to settle and the creativity and intuition to flow. I’m not saying that people with a nonhighly sensitive nervous system don’t appreciate this practice as well; it’s just that I know from personal experience the attentive, slow approach is what I absolutely need.
Embrace your sensitivity
So, this is a call to action. If you often feel anxious, tired, and over-whelmed then don’t judge yourself. Realise it’s simply that your nervous system becomes overwhelmed more quickly than others. And using that knowledge, prioritize
the self-care you need. Listen to your intuition and act upon it; embrace that sixth sense. Revel in your ability to take in the subtleties of a situation which others may miss and channel it into writing, painting – whatever creative outlet speaks to you; do things which make your soul happy. Make time for Savasana and relaxation; focus on your breath; meditate in simple silence and just watch the feelings come and go. Sooth the anxiety, nervous system overwhelm and tiredness you may feel in this busy world. Give yourself the quiet space and metime that your body needs and know that there is nothing wrong with your sensitive body and sensitive soul. Embrace your sensitivity and let it shine. You are perfect just as you are. Give yourself some breathing space Stella Tomlinson is a Southampton-based Dru Yoga teacher. To help other sensitive souls create more quiet space she’s created a range of free mindful meditations: livingyogawithstella.com/resources/ mindfulness-meditation/
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The discovery of true relaxation through Savasana is one of yoga’s greatest journeys. Here, Nick Kearney, a recently qualified yoga instructor, guides us through that blissful Savasana feeling Savasana Champion – A poem by Nick Kearney I am relaxing my toenails and my jejunum, I am relaxing the outside of my elbow, I am relaxing my hyoid bone and my islets of Langerhans, All my forgotten parts are re-laxed.
I am relaxing my obsession with celebrity, I am relaxing my belief in politics and my notions of justice, I am relaxing my television, All my absurd narratives are re-laxed.
I am relaxing my route to work, and my supermarket, I am relaxing my two free cinema tickets, I am relaxing my bottle of wine and my ice cream, All my possessions are re-laxed.
I am relaxing my mirror, I am relaxing my illusions and my sense of outrage, I am relaxing my inflated sense of my own worth, All my misunderstandings are re-laxed.
I am relaxing my dog, and the postman, I am relaxing my Facebook and my iPhone, I am relaxing my distant relatives, All my communications are re-laxed.
I am relaxing my Broca’s area, I am relaxing into this calm, this joy, This bliss, I am relaxing… I… … All my bodies are completely re-laxed.
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Get things done A quick guide to overcoming resistance and achieving your goals. By Leo Babauta
etting things done is really about one thing, and one thing only: overcoming the resistance to doing what we need to do. Here are some things that might help: BECOME AWARE The problem usually is that we don’t think about resistance. We don’t understand it or even realise it’s there. We just think, “Oh, I better straighten out my desk … or get my to-do lists in order” - then we get distracted by something on the web, or we check our email. Once you become aware of this, you can fight it, and beat it. BECOME A PRO The professional, unlike the amateur, comes to work ready to work. He’s doing it for a living (and loves what he does) and knows that as long as he shows up and
starts working, the rest will come. Approach the work like a pro, and you’ll get the work done. BE VERY CLEAR, AND FOCUS Before you start the day, be clear about what you want to accomplish. You won’t be able to finish 10 major projects, but maybe you can finish one important project, or at least move it along to a certain point. Focus, finish, then move on to the next thing. CLEAR AWAY DISTRACTIONS Don’t spend a lot of time on this because eliminating distractions can be a distraction itself. Instead, take one minute: close your email down and turn off notifications. Shut down the Internet. Then get to work. HAVE A SET TIME AND PLACE Make your first important task a daily
appointment. For me, that’s writing. Have a set start time (and possibly a set ending time) - and when that time comes, you have to start. No exceptions. KNOW YOUR MOTIVATION Why are you doing this? Why is this task important? You need to know these things to build up the motivation to overcome resistance. JUST START In the end, all the tips in the world won’t make as much of a difference as this simple (and timeless) instruction. Just sit down and start. Feel resistance to that? There’s no other way to overcome it than to just start. Only ‘doing’ actually helps. And the only way to do something is to just start. So stop reading this. And just start!
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MINDFUL YOGA: tautology or necessity?
Lucy Fry explores a new trend in yoga: mindful yoga
ot yet heard of mindful yoga? That’s probably because, until very recently, it didn’t exist. Not explicitly at least. Rather, the notion of mindfulness in yoga – being present,
accepting limitations and focusing on the breath – was as important as the asana (postures) themselves. But an exponential increase in yoga’s popularity and availability, alongside an ever-expanding pool of teachers has meant that yoga’s
magic has, at times, become diluted. To many of us, our mats are no longer a place to practice a devotional mind-body discipline so much as a place to perfect our poses. It’s not all bad – I doubt I’d have arrived in my first down dog five years ago
had I been instructed in anything other than the physical benefits (allowed to sweat and push and groan my way towards increased flexibility and a new pair of multicolored leggings) – yet recently I became ready for something else. A deeper form of selfinquiry. A greater connectedness with the moment. And that’s where mindful yoga comes in – a necessary tautology in an era where yoga has fallen far from the eight limbed tree. I tried my first mindful class at yogahaven (yogahaven.com) in London, with French-born instructor, Laurent Roure (yogalaurent.com), but other studios are quickly catching on, including Hot Bikram Yoga (hotbikramyoga.co.uk) in London Bridge, which is now offering mindful classes alongside their usual Bikram sequence.
A mindful practice
So what does this mindful yoga practice involve? “There are three main points to mindful yoga and they’re all happening at only this particular moment in time," Roure explains. We must try to accept where we’re at that day - if your back, hip, knee (etc) hurts then try not to push through it or wish it was any other way. It’s all part of a daily or hourly discovery about ourselves. We must then use this information to make changes (the second point), and adjust postures and intensity where necessary. This all relates to the third point - which is cultivating awareness, done via focused breathing, meditation and using our senses (and that’s where the lovely relaxation part – yoga nidra – comes in).
“I see a lot of people practicing yoga without an awareness, or acceptance, of their limitations.” One posture in particular exemplifies this: we lie on our backs with knees bent, holding our big toes. Little by little, we extend one leg and keep the other side pulled in. “I see a lot of people practicing yoga without an awareness, or acceptance, of their limitations,” says Roure. “This is about your body and where you are today. Mindfulness is about working with the breath and our individual alignment, so if
you have an injury or limitation you don’t force through it.” I duly stop just as I begin to feel a stretch in the back of the right leg. It’s only then that I realise I’ve actually gone too far: it’s already shaking. I breathe through the frustration and wait until my muscle tells me to go further. It takes a while, but gradually I get to know my hamstring better than I have in five years of practicing other types of yoga. What’s more, I breathe through hip joint stiffness that’s been annoying me for days.
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Same but different
I’ll admit I feel completely out of my comfort zone with this new, mindful approach. In most other classes, this pose might be done and dusted in 30 seconds, but here we’re encouraged to take our time and tune in to what part of us feels loose and what part feels tight, what analyses or Judgments our minds are making and what we can learn from all of it put together. It’s part yin and part meditation. Same, same, but different, as the Thai expression goes. These classes aren’t about teaching mindfulness per se, but about using its basic premise to influence the way the yoga itself is taught. As we know (since it’s the trendiest thing since Lululemon) one can practice mindfulness sitting, standing or during any kind of movement. In some ways the idea of mindful yoga classes reminds me of so-called ‘fortified’ cereal – where all the good stuff that has been ripped out during the cheap processing is put back in afterwards and then sold as an added bonus. Yet whilst I wouldn’t gladly chew on manufactured cereal, I’m very happy that in my screen-led, frantic world there is a yoga class emerging that puts the emphasises on moving slowly and consciously. I’m happy there’s a safe place where I can bring my fight-or-flight stress hormones down to a healthier level, reduce the endless mind-chatter in my brain, encourage a deeper relaxation that activates my parasympathetic nervous system and lets me work into muscle tightness with less risk of hurting myself. Tautology? Necessity? Perhaps both and neither. Mindful yoga is every yoga class and this particular yoga class; it’s the inhale and the exhale; an opportunity to explore or a chance to let go. Tautology? Necessity? It’s both and it’s neither. It’s same, same, but different. Just don’t forget to breathe.
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om mind Meditation of the month
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A meditation on aging (maintaining youthful energy, actually!). By Jill Lawson
ging is not for the faint of heart. For some, whether we are approaching midlife, or have already stretched beyond it, the way our bodies change can be disconcerting. Aches and pains greet us in the mornings, bedtime can’t come quick enough, and the days when we could workout harder are a thing of the past. To overcome the challenging consequences of living longer, we must be sensible, and put into practice every ounce of age-old wisdom we can imagine. When you do yoga as an older adult, your body might feel the effects of the passing of time, but you can still generate youthful energy. In fact, no matter how old you are, feeling energetically youthful will help support you on the yoga mat. However, it is important to practice yoga within your limits. Prioritize how you feel over how you think you should look, and don’t do a pose if it doesn’t feel good. The following youth-inspired meditation will keep you feeling harmonious during the, sometimes frustrating, process of aging. Practice at anytime, and especially right before you do yoga.
“Your body might feel the effects of the passing of time, but you can still generate youthful energy.” Do it now
Come to a comfortable position. Take several deep breaths and repeat the following loving kindness prayer. “I love and respect my mind and body. As I age, may I continue to love and respect my mind and body. My mind and body have served me well throughout the years. I am grateful.” Next, bring your awareness to your heart and blood vessels. Imagine your circulatory system emitting a vibration that creates a light pink aura around you. The color pink represents an untouchable, and eternal youthful spirit. Trust that as your body might be old, your energy can still be youthful. Enjoy the light and giddy feelings this image instills. Let it now soak into your mind and travel deep into your bones, so it becomes you. While you can neither turn back the time, nor make your body contort into yoga positions you might have been able to do in the past, you can still feel young at heart, at any age. Let this quote from The Talmud continue to remind you that aging gracefully is a learning experience. “For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.” May you always experience inner harmony as you age, and find great health and happiness on your journey through life.
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Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher in Colorado (jilllawsonyoga.com) Vetiver
om mind De-Stress: Yoga off the Mat
Coming back tocenter Better balance through your belly. By Charlotte Watts
y belly has always been a central part of my life. In the beginning, this wasn’t because of the core support and physical axis a healthy middle can provide – quite the opposite in fact. When I came to yoga, I had many physical issues that centerd around the gut; crippling IBS, emotionally-held and stress-related constipation (us nutritionists don’t mind talking about poo!) and a fractured and self-critical relationship with this area of my body. I had very little connection with my body neck-down and had been clumsy and uncoordinated through my childhood. With a busy head and traumatized body, I was ready to meet the stuff I’d buried deep ‘down there’ as going on as it was simply wasn’t an option. In ayurvedic medicine, agni is the fire that resides deep in the belly and provides the energy for absorbing essential nutrients and eliminating waste. With strong agni (from where we get the word ‘ignite’), we can digest and assimilate both our food and the experiences we meet in life. When it’s weakened, we feel both an internal physical toxic build-up (ama) and emotional accumulation such as resentment, anger, sadness, guilt, shame and fear. Living with these damaging self-judgments flying around creates internally generated stress that interferes with digestive processes and the wheel keeps turning. We can feel locked into ‘head stuff’ that steals our energy and fragments us from our bodies.
The modern disconnect
Even if you don’t have digestive symptoms or feel overwhelmed by inner voices, we all live in a culture where we can tend to live up in our heads. Much of the popularity of yoga and other meditative arts is to counter our conditionings for analyzis, evaluation, comparison and measurement. This ‘thinking over feeling’ way of living can get (yet more) stuff done, but it often creates disconnection from our bodies and nature. Many people turn to the physical side of yoga to simply ‘come back home’ to their bodies. Even if it’s not totally conscious, on some level, if we’re prepared to connect, we’re ready to release some of the blockages we can hold in our bellies. For me, this process was not easy, but it was always rewarding. Letting go of stuff we carry round can feel physically and emotionally intense, but it does clear the way to feeling lighter on many levels.
In Zen Buddhism, the energetic place just below the navel is referred to as the hara and associated with will or intent rather than just feeling, so where we act and move from. According to Peter Wilberg’s fascinating book Head, Heart and Hara, the hara is the source of our intuition, the “clear space within the ‘soul-belly’ that turns it into the intuitive ‘womb’ of our listening” and from where we move and act. In yoga we often talk about ‘listening and responding’ and here is where that originates. When we notice we’ve got up into the noisy soup in our heads, inhaling deeply and dropping down into the space of the hara can connect our back to our inner worlds – back towards connection with what we truly need and how to move with a free and easy energy flow.
Your emotional hub
In yoga, the lower, more physically based chakras represent the grounding that many stressed people ‘living up in their heads’ need to apply for nurture, support and kind attention. In ayurveda, the yoga asanas recommended for both gut and emotional issues are often related to the second chakra under the navel (svadisthana
“When you are sick, do not seek a cure. Find your center and you will be healed.” Ancient Daoist saying – orange) – said to be the seat of emotion, where we can store feelings that have arisen from experiences and (along with the solar plexus area) feel physical ripples of the effects of stress and trauma. This correlates with neuroscientific research into the enteric nervous system in the digestive tract, showing that ‘gut feelings’ are very real ways of how we gauge whether a situation or person is safe or unsafe. The more we can feel and are able to trust these, the happier and healthier our mind-bodies can become.
Belly focus meditation
This practice is a great way to focus in to your center at any time you need to move away from brain agitation or as to arrive into your body at the start of an asana practice. Connecting to your navel area first means that movement can then move from belly integrity, where we feel that our limbs move gracefully out from the hub, rather than independently flailing around without grace. Ultimately this can help us with mindful movement through life and trusting our gut intuition. n T his is best done lying down (with knees bent, feet hip-width apart) so your whole body is supported, but can also be done sitting if you need or prefer. n P lace your hands somewhere onto your belly where they feel relaxed and can allow your belly to move as you breathe. n S imply let your breath settle; not needing to impose, change or expect anything from it. Simply observe how it is, right now. n L et your breath show you how you are feeling within your belly; how the rise with the inhalation and fall with the exhalation can feel different in tone, heat, fluidity, ease, resistance, smoothness, stickiness with each breath. Simple observe with curiosity and fascination without Judgment, analyzis or comment. n B reathe a sense of kindness and loving attention to your belly and feel this emanating from the sensory attention (even if imagined) of your hands placed there. Feel how your nervous system responds to this focus, care and soothing. n L et the inhalation start to bring in a sense of gathering your entire self into your belly area, feeling this as the true center of you and noticing if and when your brain might pipe up to try and steal the limelight. Use this focus to drop down from any distractions (thoughts, feelings) that may try to take you away. n N otice how your body and brain can be soft and feel ease when you are connected to the flow of information within your belly and from here, move into your practice or your day.
Charlotte Watts is a UK-based yoga instructor and the author of a new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness (charlottewattshealth.com)
I met a
How a Buddhist monk taught me mindfulness and what happened next. By Rose Elliot
oga and meditation have always been part of my life. I practice them both every day, and am used to the benefits they bring. So when a Buddhist monk came to my home to teach a group mindfulness meditation, I was not expecting it to be the lifechanging, transformative experience it turned out to be. So what was special about this teaching, and different from other workshops and retreats that I have attended? Perhaps it was the very fact that I had no expectations; as far as I was concerned, I was hosting this event mainly for the benefit of others. But the monk said two things, quite early on in the proceedings, that aroused my interest. The first was when he mentioned that as an ordained Theravada monk it is against his vows for him to speak from any notes; he has to talk spontaneously, being ‘in the moment’, rather than planning in advance. “But that’s fine,” he added, “because everything you need to know about Buddhism can be written on a postcard, so it’s really easy to remember.” That got our attention. Really? On a postcard? How could that be? As the teaching progressed, we found out exactly what it meant. The other intriguing thing the monk said, when he was leading us into a meditation, was this: “When your mind wanders, bring it back to the present. Notice the feeling you have of stress, of wanting or not wanting, of trying to make things different from the way they are...
Rose Elliot MBE is the author of the new book I Met a Monk (roseelliot.com)
“When a Buddhist monk came to my home to teach a group mindfulness meditation, I was not expecting it to be the life-changing, transformative experience it turned out to be. notice it, and allow everything to be the way it is.” He then added: “When you do that, when you let go of your desires and the emotions attaching to them, when you let it all be exactly as it is, what happens? Well, you do it, and see.” These last words held me rapt. I thought he meant that, by letting go, by stopping trying to make things happen, and practicing the mindfulness meditation, we would magically change our lives and create all the things we wanted. And for me, there were many. Things I wanted for the home, my appearance, my career, my personal life. Anyway, I thought if noticing my feelings, and letting them go, but not trying to change anything, would make the things I wanted happen, then it was worth giving it a go. So I started mindfulness just as the monk had described: opening myself to and being completely aware of the present moment, noticing how I was feeling, what I was seeing or hearing, and accepting it without judging, comparing, criticizing or wishing that it were different. I tried to do this for 10-15 minutes every day – a mindfulness meditation – and also for 60 seconds or so throughout the day, the ‘mindfulness minute’ as the monk called it. This is when we take a mindfulness breath or two, being fully aware of the process, and ‘allow everything to be the way it is’. I even set the alarm on my watch to go off every hour to remind me. Gradually, I noticed I was becoming calmer, more centerd. Oh yes, I still had my moments (and still do); I’m only human. But these days I’m much more able to pause and notice my feelings, feel the peace of ‘this-moment-now’, and breathe it into my being. And the thing that has surprised me is the more I do it, the easier it gets. It is also cumulative. It’s as if every time I’m mindful I am adding a bit more peace to the pool that feels as if it is
building up inside me, at the center of my being. I can dip into this pool whenever I need to feel at peace. And yet every time I do so, it adds more peace to the pool. The other day I came across a quote that describes this pool perfectly. It is by the monk who first brought Theravada Buddhism to Great Britain, Ajahn Chah, in his book, Still Forest Pool. He writes: “Try to be mindful, and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.” So, two or three years on, I have achieved many of the things I’d hoped for, though not always in the way I expected, and often without my doing anything in particular to make them happen. The more I keep bringing myself back into the present moment, accepting things as they are, and just feeling the peace and strength of this moment, the more things simply seem to unfold for me. The help I need just suddenly comes to me without me apparently doing anything: it seems to arrive almost effortlessly. This has happened to me so often that now, when I have a problem – and my life has certainly not been without these - I just go into meditation to that place of clarity and peace within, and know that I will be looked after, that all will be well, and whatever I need will come to me. Life, as the monk said, seems to flow, despite the challenges, and for that I am deeply grateful.
Rose Elliot is a best-selling vegetarian cookery writer, astrologer, and yoga enthusiast
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Celtic Yoga H
Introducing the Celtic School of Yoga, a 21st Century vision rooted in ancient mythology
ave you ever wondered if yoga’s roots could be traced to any place other than India? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason yoga is so globally popular, is simply that it belongs to everyone; that it is not just the property of the Indian subcontinent? Is it such a wild idea to imagine that we don’t need to import all of our yoga from India, that in fact we could, even while we respect and honor all that comes from India, have right here beneath our feet, our very own, grass roots, home grown yoga philosophy and practice? Are you enchanted by this idea? If you are it could be because you are resonating with a deep and ancient history of spiritual practice that is rooted right here in these islands. We’re enchanted by this idea because it calls to us from a long way back in our own ancestry and spirit.
One of the most recent, and beautiful developments in the contemporary yoga scene is the emergence of the Celtic School of Yoga, whose roots are firmly planted in the rhythms and traditions of our own lands. The Celtic School of Yoga is an Invitation to Enchantment. The school represents a new paradigm in the sharing of a yoga that is not the exclusive territory of a farEastern tradition but rather it sings inside
“Celtic Yoga is there to dissolve the boundaries between West and East, between Ireland and India, to effect a creative reconciliation between women and men.”
themselves, inspired by their own tradition and their own place in the world. In its simplest form, Celtic Yoga is there to dissolve the boundaries between West and East, between Ireland and India, to effect a creative reconciliation between women and men, and to remove those boundaries that separate us from our own natural yoga. To practice Celtic Yoga is to be fully rooted in the earth and enraptured by life. Celtic Yoga enchants us; it calls us to be fully alive and in deep connection with the land, and with the stories and poetic traditions that grew from her. Western yoginis and yogis have always looked to India to discover yoga, often without realizing that its essence is intrinsic to our own culture and is dramatically alive at our far Western boundaries.
The myths and stories of Shiva, Shakti, Lakshmi, and Krishna and the philosophical
om spirit reflections that we learn from the Vedas, Upanishads and Tantric texts, give us the inspiration and structure within which to place our yoga practices. But where does our yoga vision come from? Does it not arise in Ireland or Scotland or Wales as much as in India? Can our own stories be as much a basis for a real living yoga as the stories we hear from the other side of the world? There are resonances between the origin stories of Vishnu and the great Irish hero Fionn. In the mythology of India, Vishnu came from the world ocean as a fish and child at once and was “radiant with the lustre of wisdom”; Fionn was born of the river goddess Bóinn to become a seer/Druid. He emerged out of her river bringing with him all the Imbass (wisdom) from the nine hazel trees which grew at the source of the Boyne. The IndoEuropean links are endless.
One of the difficulties of importing to northern countries a wholly traditional Indian approach to yoga is that the climate and culture are so very different; what may feel natural and easy to practice at four am in the tropics in January feels like torture in November in the west of Ireland, or on
a desperately cold February afternoon in Somerset. Things are different here. Seasonal changes in available light and heat shape our lives according to where we live. Insistence on rigid structures or schedules of practice imported from India, and/or upon an authoritarian scheme of teaching that demands long periods of retreat in ashrams, is not always appropriate, possible, or nourishing for us. When we attempt to adhere to Indian systems and schedules of yoga practice we can become depleted, frustrated, or disheartened because these methods and rhythms simply do not fit with our lived experience. We need a new way to share yoga so that it nourishes everyone. The sharing of yoga through the Celtic School of Yoga is responsive, subtle and intelligently attuned to the rhythms of our lives here and now.
“The Celtic School of Yoga – An Aisling for the 21st Century” written by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Jack Harrison will be available to buy from November 2015. A series of Celtic workshops are also planned in the UK and Ireland. This month, you can join them in London at the Yogacampus training center on November 6-7. For information visit: yogacampus.com
IF THE IDEA OF CELTIC YOGA RESONATES WITH YOU AND YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE, A GOOD STARTING POINT IS TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF IN THE CELTIC CALENDAR, ITS PLACES AND GODDESSES SUCH AS: l I MBOLG to the White Goddess as Brighid, the goddess of fertility who poured the future into the Shannon River from her great iron cauldron l B EALTAINE to Danu (of Ireland, Greece and India) on May 1st and her three daughters who constitute the physical land of Ireland, on the site of the Omphalos at Uisneach. Also close to the Omphalos (the navel of the world) was a fire from which all fires in Ireland were lit. l L UGHANASA to the Lugh, god of light, at Lughnasa, the festival of the harvest, which included climbing hills and swimming in lakes.
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l S AMHAIN to the Cailleach (Kali) or Morrigan the witch goddess. Winter Solstice – to Aenghus, son of youth and god of love and birth. l S UMMER SOLSTICE Midsummer St John’s Eve l S PRING EQUINOX We don’t seem to have any record of an older festival but today the festival of the Spring equinox is celebrated on St Patrick’s Day all over the world. l A UTUMN EQUINOX The feast of Mabon, the continental avatar of Aenghus, was the Autumn equinox. This was also called Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael, who was the one to drive Adam and Eve and the snake out of the Garden of Eden.
om spirit Ayurvedic clinic:
THE EYES HAVE IT
Can ayurveda help reduce dark circles under the eyes? By Dr Vijay Murthy
f you have this problem I would not be surprised to hear that you have spent countless hours on the Internet looking for a solution. But, ironically, this may have aggravated the problem even more by causing further eyestrain and more dark rings. The most obvious reasons for dark circles under the eyes are poor sleep and aging. Annoyingly, however, not everybody is affected equally. This leaves those who are finding it particularly hard to cover up this problem, especially with age or when we do not have a good nightâ€™s rest, feeling frustrated. From an ayurvedic perspective, if you are of Vata constitution and/or have an imbalanced Vata, the skin under your eyes can tend to look tired, damaged, excessively pigmented and even older than your actual years. So, what are some predominant characteristics of a Vata constitution and what can worsen Vata problems, even if you are not necessarily a Vata person?
The Vata constitution
n Y ou are generally slim and find it hard to gain weight n I f you gain weight you are likely to put it on around your midriff, than your hips or thighs. You are more an apple-shaped person than pear-shaped n Y ou thrive on stimulation but get fatigued quickly n S hort attention span, you can get bored easily n Y ou tend to have interrupted sleep and/ or are generally a light sleeper unless overly exhausted n Y ou have a highly sensitive digestive system and you tend to be sensitive to wheat and gluten n Crave coffee or sweets for energy lifts
If you donâ€™t fit the typical Vata constitution list, then here are some other things that can also aggravate Vata:
n L ack of routine upsetting biological rhythms n A ccelerated aging from stress and poor lifestyle choices n C rash dieting. Often diets result in upsetting Vata n D ehydration, not enough water taken during the day n E xposure to cold, wind or harsh weather conditions n G oing to bed late (after 11 pm) n P oor sleep or lack of sleep n S moking or recreational drugs n E ating processed foods n E xtreme physical activity or extreme fitness routine n E xcessive worrying, anxiety and psychological stress n A ddiction to latest detox therapies
What else can dark circles be telling us? Whether we like it or not, dark eye circles
Sanskrit (from Ayush meaning lifespan)…
DEFINITION: can be familial. So if your mom always looks like she needs a good night’s sleep with dark circles under the eyes, this may well be why you suffer from the same problem. Unfortunately, this can worsen with age particularly with stress or poor nutrition and you will notice it more, not less, unless you take some action. Individuals with darker complexion tend to experience uneven pigmentation on the face and particularly deeper pigmentation under the eyes. Sometimes dark circles may actually be eczema, in which case you need to seek help from a qualified health professional. In some people, dark under eyes can indicate an allergic reaction. Other problems include exposure to the sun, which can also damage the sensitive skin under the eyes and worsen dark circles. Or weight loss, especially following a restrictive diet – this can result in fat loss in the face, which, in turn, can result in thinning of the layers under the eyes exposing the veins under the skin, giving a darker appearance.
Reducing dark circles
Although there are plenty of cosmetic approaches, including laser treatments, dark circles are asking that you pay attention to your diet and lifestyle. Healthy nutrition, exercise and adequate rest can work wonders with many health problems but are often the last thing we try as they do take some effort (there are lifestyle changes that we may not wish to make). While you can conceal darkness with cosmetic products, it is important to address any underlying physiological imbalances that are actually leading to aging of the delicate skin in this area. Below are some principles and practices you can benefit from irrespective of any form of cosmetic approaches you take. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO CRASH DIET Yes you can lose weight in a short time, but eventually this will actually start to affect your health. This can be in addition to putting the weight back on much sooner than if you had lost weight following a healthy nutrition and exercise plan. DO NOT TREAT YOUR BODY LIKE A TOXIN PRODUCING MACHINE THAT HAS TO BE CONTINUALLY STRIPPED CLEAN Try to be gentle with your body: over juicing, over fasting, or extreme detox retreats are not necessarily the answer. Our bodies are like
mobile phones – you need to charge every day and as you use. So pay attention to your ‘daily regime’ rather than opting for an overly strict or ‘exciting once a year exotic retreat’. GO TO BED BEFORE 11 PM and try to get eight hours sleep. When you have not slept well continually for a number of days, give yourself permission to oversleep on the weekend. TRY YOGA and meditation to rest and relax. Once a week, or as frequently as you can manage, try ‘electronic fasting’. Meaning put away all your electronic gadgets (take out of the bedroom or consider turning the WiFi off) and rest not only your eyes and your mind but the whole body. AVOID HARSH CHEMICALLY BASED SKIN PRODUCTS When possible look for natural alternatives. DRINK PLENTY OF WARM WATER during the day. TRY CASTOR OIL under your eyes at night. Be gentle with this area. No rubbing.
(from vid meaning to know)…
Ayurveda Sanskrit • Science and art of improving quality of life and longevity… • ageless knowledge of health through life… • the oldest complete health system…
THE SCIENCE OF LIFE
MASSAGE YOUR FACE WITH COCONUT OIL for 10 minutes and apply a hot towel or expose the face to steam without exposing the eyes. SOAK TEA BAGS IN WARM WATER, squeeze the water out and gently place them over the eyes for 10 minutes. This will reduce the puffiness, as tannins in the tea will help constrict the blood vessels under the eyes. EAT PLENTY OF VEGETABLES Avoid refined carbohydrates, reduce cookies and other sugar-laden foods, limit alcohol intake, quit smoking and when possible, breathe fresh air and take walks in nature. Finally, we must all learn to accept that, with age, our collagen production becomes reduced and skin ages. However, we can prevent unnecessary aging by taking care of our nutrition and lifestyle.
Dr Vijay Murthy is a London-based ayurvedic doctor and a member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association (apa.uk.com)
Qualified Trained Insured Ayurvedic Professionals
For your health needs
Trust the Process Finding contentment in Bakasana
atanjali says “by contentment, supreme joy is gained” (Yoga Sutra II.42). But a sense of contentment can be elusive if yoga practice becomes too much about improvement and progress. This became clear to me recently when I was looking through some early photos of my yoga practice and I came across a picture of Bakasana. My first arm balance! I remember the rush of elation the first time I was able to hold my weight off the ground. It felt simply amazing, almost like real yoga! I’d spent months face planting, wobbling, and falling out of the pose. Because of this I was too shy initially to try it in class, too afraid of falling onto a neighbor’s mat and hurting myself – or worse, hurting them. But I persisted at home, using blocks to help get my hips high enough, with cushions to protect my face when I inevitably, repeatedly, nose-dived. The bruising on my upper arms told the story: I didn’t really have the strength for the pose yet. Then incrementally I found my stability and I managed enough lift through my core to keep me there. The initial excitement literally took my breath away and after each successful attempt I’d just sit back on the mat panting in wild elation: I couldn’t balance and breathe at the same time! This photo brought back all those early feelings of achievement and excitement. And the trip down memory lane was really nice. I smiled back at those early days when everything was in front of me and each pose was categorized in my head simply as ‘can do’ or ‘can’t do’ without any nuances of ‘fuller expression’, ‘moving deeper’, or ‘advanced option’. But then as I looked more carefully at my Bakasana photo I started to see how structurally unsteady the pose was. I was holding on almost desperately. No sthira sukham asanam (steady and comfortable pose) here, just a mad, momentary triumph of will over gravity, the result of determined effort much more than controlled technique. My knees were splaying out to the sides and were too low on my arms, the pose was so heavy. No, this was actually an awful Bakasana!
Seeking reassurance in my abilities, I compared it with a more recent photo of my practice. My new improved Bakasana was much higher and lighter. I could see the lift in the pose. Bruised upper arms are definitely a thing of the past. The pose just looked all round stronger and more stable. So Bakasana is now in the ‘can do’ category, right? If only it were that simple! I no longer have this binary categorization of asanas; now every asana sits somewhere on a spectrum of achievement. In each pose I’m more aware of what I could be doing ‘better’. In my Bakasana I’m not pulling into the center line enough, my knees aren’t quite up towards my armpits, I suspect I’m still not engaging my core enough – and, oh, why aren’t my arms straight yet? Comparing these two pictures of Bakasana clearly showed me how my asana practice, and my Bakasana in particular, has evolved. Of course that was lovely to see. But much more than that it revealed to me how fleeting santosha (contentment) can be. The more ability and technique I develop in my asana, the more likely I am to critique my own physical practice, to strive after greater flexibility, strength, and stability. When once any gesture I made towards Bakasana was the ultimate triumph, it’s now a breeding ground for comparison, self-criticism, and perfectionism. And this is not how I want my yoga to be. So I put my photos away and reminded myself that asana is only one part of yoga. The yamas and the niyamas (the ethical and behavioral guidelines described by Patanjali) provide the perfect antidote to this ego-driven, striving attitude. Practice santosha (contentment), be grateful for having the practice and for the manifold opportunities this offers. Trust in the process. All in good time.
“As I looked more carefully at my Bakasana photo I started to see how structurally unsteady the pose was.”
babycrow is a beginner yogini living in the UK. She is alternately entranced and bewildered by the power of yoga and the changes a regular practice brings to her. She shares her yoga journey at babycrowyoga.co.uk
“Learning the Science of Life”
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Hugs & hope Amma, the global spiritual and humanitarian leader who has been travelling the world for the last 30 years with her signatory embrace – darshan – is returning to the UK
piritual leader Amma is back in London this month. In addition to being available for the tens of thousands of people who come for her blessing every year, Amma’s mission is one of uplifting humanity, especially improving conditions for those suffering from a lack of basic human needs such as food and shelter. She has inspired a vast network of charitable activities under the Embracing the World (ETW) umbrella. “Mere words of sympathy are not what the world needs. What the world needs are hands that are ready to serve selflessly. If we can light the lamp of faith and love in our hearts and walk forward together, then we definitely can bring about a change in society,” she told OM. Endowed with special UN consultative status, the ETW charity spans every aspect of social justice. In August, Amma gave the keynote speech at the UN Academic Impact Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development. And last December, she co-signed, along with Pope Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby and others, the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration against Slavery. Her message is clear: true worship is service to the poor and suffering. Every single charitable project is started after someone brings their problem to Amma, and every volunteer joins after being inspired by her compassion. “According to the Bhagavad Gita, the Creator and creation are one, just as waves and the ocean are one and the same,” she says. “Though we may see a thousand suns reflected in a thousand pots of water, there is only one sun. Likewise, the consciousness within all of us is the same. Just as one hand spontaneously reaches out to soothe the other hand when it is in pain, may we all console and support others as we would our own self.” Amma will be at London’s Alexandra Palace on November 10-11, 2015. Visit: amma.org.uk or to find out more about Embracing the World visit: embracingtheworld.org
World Spiritual & Hum anitarian Leader Visits London
tuesday 10 – wednesday 11 november 2015
Ale xandra Pal ace Wood Green London N22 7AY
Love is our true essence. Love has no limitations of caste, religion, race or nationality. We are all beads strung together on the same thread of love. we warmly invite you to come & be inspired by amma’s teachings, her humanitarian mission & loving embrace free admission z www. amma .org.uk z www.embracingtheworld.org reg charity 1056505
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TRAININGS 2016: Jan. 9-30 May 28-June 18 Aug. 27-Sep. 17 Oct. 15-Nov. 05
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Nutritious and delicious: easy recipe ideas from American yoga superstar Tara Stiles American superstar yoga teacher Tara Stiles is one of the stars of this year’s OM Yoga Show at Alexandra Palace. Dubbed the ‘Yoga Rebel’ by the New York Times, Stiles is a unique presence in the yoga world. She is the founder of the Strala Yoga studio in New York City, and with over 200,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, is one of the leading figures in the online yoga movement.
Make Your Own Rules Cookbook by Tara Stiles (Hay House UK, £18.99)
Candied Almond Popeye Tara says...
“I’ve been obsessed with spinach for as long as I can remember. It has always made me feel fantastic and I have always liked the taste. I know that I was a very strange kid. I also had this desire to be strong, so I always tried to do things to build strength. Eating like Popeye was on my list of things to do daily. Relish this decadent, sweet salad treat.” Serves 2
Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • •
1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 tablespoon maple syrup 150g/1 cup almonds 1 pinch sea salt 120g/4 cups spinach 1 avocado, pitted and chopped 3 or 4 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 shakes hot sauce 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Method 1. 2. 3.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Mix the coconut oil and maple syrup. Coat the almonds in the coconutmaple syrup mixture and pat the extra moisture away. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the sea salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until toasted. Mix the spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and baked almonds in a large bowl. Combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and hot sauce in a small bowl, whisking until smooth to create the dressing. Add the dressing to the salad and stir until everything is evenly dispersed. Top with nutritional yeast. Enjoy!
Creamy Mushroom Bake Tara says...
“I never really thought about what went into potatoes au gratin or why a dish of creamy baked potatoes and other veggies was called something so fancy. One evening around suppertime, however, when just a few potatoes, mushrooms, and staple ingredients were lying around the kitchen, I decided to improvize. I get it now.”
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
4 potatoes, chopped 250ml/1 cup coconut milk 35g/¼ cup cashews 3 cloves garlic 25g/¼ cup flour 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon turmeric ½ red onion, chopped 2 tablespoons nondairy butter 200g/2 cups cremini mushrooms 6 shitake mushrooms, chopped Juice of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Blend the coconut milk, cashews, garlic, flour, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and turmeric to make a sauce. Sauté the onion in the nondairy butter in a medium skillet until browned. Add the chopped mushrooms, potatoes, and coconut sauce, and stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to a glass baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the lemon juice.
Coconut Parfait Tara says...
While leading a retreat at the W hotel in the Maldives, the chef prepared delicious and nourishing recipes inspired by my book Make Your Own Rules Diet. The chef added quite a few local, island-themed touches that gave me some new tricks to take home, try out, and share. This breakfast (and almost dessert)is such a delicious treat to start the day with. It doesn’t take long to prepare, but you have to start on this recipe the night before for the parfait to set up properly. Don’t worry: it only takes a few minutes, and you’ll have a fresh breakfast waiting for you in the morning. I enjoyed this after many sunrise yoga sessions, and it kept me going strong until refueling after a swim in the ocean or dip in the pool. It works to refresh and start the day when I’m back to city life, as well. Serves 2
Ingredients • • • • •
250ml/1 cup coconut milk 4 tablespoons chia seeds 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 tablespoons granola 200g/1 cup fresh strawberries and blueberries
Method 1. 2. 3.
Combine the coconut milk, chia seeds and vanilla. Stir and cover. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Remove the mixture in the morning and combine with the granola and fresh berries.
Make Your Own Rules Cookbook by Tara Stiles (Hay House UK, £18.99),
Republic of Ireland your
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om living Nutrition Zone:
An ayurvedic detox Try an ayurvedic detox this fall season, and get your body geared up for winter
fter a summer filled with kids, happy holidays, picnics, barbecues and sunshine, we’re now faced with shortening daylight hours and far cooler climates. Yes, we may be heading into winter but it’s important to view the transition from one season to another as an opportunity, a time to put in place, or return to, good habits. Doing this will also help you navigate the change of season, and you’ll certainly be glad that you did when winter is truly upon us. Fall is a great time to ease back into a healthy routine. And a detox based on the science of ayurveda could be just what you need to make it through the shorter
days and cooler temperatures ahead. To demystify the process of detoxing, ayurvedic health educators from Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center, near Boone, North Carolina, in the USA, have designed several retreats and opportunities this season geared toward healthy cleanses. “To protect your health all year, but particularly during the fall, it’s important to slow down, support your liver’s natural ability to remove toxins from the body, and take stock of the influences you allow into your life,” says ayurveda health practitioner Lokesh Raturi. “The influences include the food you eat and the time you spend around electronics such as phones, TVs, and computers.”
He says a fall ayurvedic detox consists of a pre-cleanse, main cleanse and postcleanse. The pre-cleanse includes cleansing with diet, which allows undigested toxins to digest. Raturi explains this is to be followed by internal and external moisturizing with ghee (clarified butter) or oil, and body massage, which is known as Abhyanga.
The detox process also includes:
n Following a khichari diet for five days to help dissolve toxins. Khichari is a dish made from rice and lentils. It’s known for the ability to detox the body and balance the body. n Avoiding oily foods, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle.
3 TIPS FOR AUTUMN
Now is the time of year when the vata dosha can spiral out of balance. Here are some things you can do to get it back under control. DIET Warming comfort foods are great at this time of year, like soups and casseroles, but make sure they’re made up from healthy whole foods and filled with fresh goodness. Use natural and organic ingredients wherever possible. Drink warm water and spiced teas through the day but lay off the caffeine. LIFESTYLE Do what you can to stay grounded, so instil routine and planning into your daily life if possible, and take regular breaks to avoid depletion (stop, reconnect with your breath, try a minute’s mindfulness, step outside for a walk). All of these tools will help to keep you in balance. Be wary of wearing yourself out. MOVEMENT Keep active to keep your heat up through the cooler months, but keep your feet on the ground too. Walking and being in nature are always good but over exertion may be too much. On the yoga mat, think more of a grounding practice with lots of good breathing exercises.
n Slowing down and controlling stress. Adjust your schedule so you have time to prepare and eat meals in a relaxed manner. n Specific yoga poses can help expedite the detoxification process. Deep stretches including Triangle Pose, Seated Forward Bend and Camel help relieve digestive problems like constipation. n Drinking a glass of hot water before sleep. Panchakarma can be incredibly useful during this seasonal transition because it gives the body extra strength to support itself for the months ahead, adds Raturi. An
ayurvedic doctor, as well as an expert on pulse diagnosis, reproductive health and maternal care, yoga and meditation, Raturi is a well known ayurvedic doctor and is one of the experts who leads the Panchakarma retreats at the Shankara Ayurveda Spa. Raturi believes that fall is the best time to detox in order to help the body rejuvenate naturally, though it’s important to follow the advice that is right for the individual and their own unique constitution. “An ayurvedic detox is unique for each person per their body constitution as well any imbalance they may have such as age and body strength.”
Is education today paving the path to success? By Bryony Duckitt
ducation has been defined as any act or experience that forms the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. But is our present education system ticking all the critical boxes? PE sessions often only feature for a mere 30 minutes each week and a focus on emotional intelligence is rare. Apart from training children to make the required grades, are we in fact failing our children in other
vital areas? Are we giving them the essential life tools they desperately need to cope with today’s frenzied media and technology obsessed society? More than ever, children today need to be given the tools to cope with the pressure and pace they must face in life. Goose Green Primary and Nursery School, based in South East London, has been proactive in addressing these challenges. It recently enlisted the help of children’s yoga school, YogaBeez, to introduce mindful stress-relieving techniques in the lead up to the Year 6 SATs tests. Claire Majumdar had only been acting head teacher at Goose Green for two days when she began to explore ways in which she could improve the wellbeing of her students by helping them de-stress. A teaching veteran and accredited Ofsted Inspector, she believes that high quality education is driven by an inside-out approach where emotional intelligence and removing barriers to learning are vital to success. With the Year 6
SATs imminent, this forward-thinking head teacher approached YogaBeez to seek ways to help the children relax, de-stress, sleep better and find focus.
In the lead up to the exam week, YogaBeez provided the Year 6’s with 40 minute sessions introducing some simple yoga, breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques. It also explored yoga methods to wake up the brain and stimulate the left and right hemispheres whilst encouraging focus and concentration. In just one week the children responded incredibly quickly. They went from about 80% distracted and giggling on day one, to about 2% by the last day. Chatting to the children and getting feedback showed that they were already using some of the new techniques at home when feeling frustrated with parents or siblings or themselves. They all embraced the benefits they were experiencing from simple deep breathing. Following the initial success, Goose Green signed up for the YogaBeez Yoga Tools for Schools training at their INSET day. The school’s 59 staff
members were introduced to yoga and mindfulness and given a selection of tools to take into the classroom. Each teacher was given a Hoberman Sphere (used as a visual aid to encourage awareness of the breath) and a mindful bell for the classroom. With all that teachers already have on their plates, a willingness to try something different was always going to be the biggest challenge. But all the class teachers actually participated in the yoga classes. Even the sceptics came away curious and more open to the many benefits that mindfulness can bring to the learning environment.
The profound impact on both students and teachers prompted Goose Green to find funding for further development of yoga and mindfulness within the school. For the next two years, approximately 280 children in years three to six will enjoy yoga as one of their school subjects. The goal is to allow the techniques learned through yoga and mindfulness to
filter into every moment of the school day and then continue from school to home. Our society is busy, our children are stressed and exposed to a growing amount of stimulation and ever-evolving technology, and yet relaxation and grounding remain low on our priority list. If only all children could have access to understanding the power of their breath and awareness of their bodies and busy minds. It is the responsibility of all parents and educators to give them the tools to achieve this. Bryony Duckitt is the founder of YogaBeez (yogabeez.com)
onscious parenting is to be awake as a parent. It’s not enough to parent as you were parented. Current times demand a new way, and a conscious parent chooses to be connected to these ways. There are many aspects of life to connect with; some are tangible and others are subtle. Connecting with each other is important; but it is connecting with nature that adds a more magical and elemental quality to life. The play of nature is a reflection of what happens inside the body. Explore this to recognize the natural rhythms that occur within us with each seasonal change. Raising an awareness of this allows us to fall gently in line with our natural surroundings in order to live in harmony with the earth. Children will find a natural order and transition through each season, while adults can sometimes remain locked into living life in one singular way, negating adaptations and shifts. Observe your family and find inventive ways to follow a natural rhythm.
Colder weather invites a desire to hibernate. In autumn the temperature dips, so be sure to keep both your house and your heart warm. Make the changes within your home, which will accommodate the changes outside. Turn your family home into a cozy cave, one that encourages reflection, stillness and simple home comforts. It is a time to start pulling inward, to let go and allow change. As the leaves of the trees change color and start dropping to the ground, we too can let go of ideas that no longer serve us and become open to change.
l C reate an aroma by burning incense, oils or scented candles. l S often the atmosphere with lamps, candles, and add fairy lights to communal rooms. l L ight a fire, and relax on rugs, sipping warm drinks and playing board games or reading your favorite book. l K nit cozy bed socks for the family. l D rape blankets over the sofas. l E xplore herbals teas like licorice, cinnamon, jasmine, vanilla and spicy chai. l C uddle up to watch a favorite family movie. l B ake spiced biscuits to enjoy in front of the fire.
om family I grew up in a sub tropical climate and never experienced seasonal changes. My first real autumn was magical. I had moved from Africa to a small village in Germany, and experienced the coldest weather of my life. As the weather changed, the Waldorf School where I worked, transformed itself into the most delightful grotto. There were red-berried branches decorating the reading room, woollen elves warming themselves in front of a fire on the theme table, and the smell of cinnamon, clementines and cloves drifted lazily through the classrooms. The weather turned bitter outside, but inside, I was in heaven and my initiation into the seasons had begun. Get outside too. Autumn is a wonderful time to be outdoors, so don’t shy away from outdoor activities. While enjoying these times, also create a warm glowing home for your family to return to. To celebrate the seasonal change, pay attention to these tips for keeping your family warm and nourished, both indoors and out.
All together now
Celebrate your family life by honoring the seasons. Show your family just how special they are by embracing the closeness that the cold weather brings. Take time to retreat, resolve and rejoice in each other. Welcome the changes by bunking down, building forts and getting close. Stay connected to the natural world that surrounds you, and watch how your family recalibrates inside, learning to sing to a new song… until the next season comes.
Siri Arti is the creator of Starchild Yoga. For details of all teacher training courses during 2016 visit: starchildyoga.org l D raw, paint and create magic together. It’s fun to see how unique everyone is.
l G o for a brisk walk. Wrap up warm and take a flask of hot chocolate as a treat along the way. l F ind a local fire pit and enjoy some outdoor community fun. Pack a bag full of warm cider, sparklers, marshmallows and musical instruments and get your groove on around the flames. l D ust off your camera to shoot the ever-changing leaves. Hunt for mushrooms and toadstools in the woods and capture as many varieties as possible.
Switch off those digital devices right now, says Lesley Philpott Social media is everywhere these days - Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter. There are seemingly a thousand ways to connect...and our children and young people seem to know them all. In fact, many teens confess to spending almost all of their free time online - chatting, gaming, surfing the web. And nearly everyone has access to a smartphone. It’s great to be sociable with friends, of course, but not if that also means sore eyes, late nights and elevated stress levels as a result of information overload. Being hyper-connected is not necessarily good for the soul. It wasn’t that long ago that these devices didn’t exist. Yes, it’s easy to look back through rose-tinted glasses at the ‘good old days’, but years ago it was bikes, parks and playgrounds that kept us entertained (plus maybe a few hours glued to the television in the evening!). Our children and teens (and probably way too many adults as well) desperately need a digital detox - and fast. It can be hard as we are all so addicted to our technology, but it is possible. Here’s how: Yoga: if you can get your child or teenager to a yoga class then do it; if not, see if you can get them to mirror you on the mat at home for free. This will help them disengage and slow down. Meditation: similarly, a simple mindfulness practice can bring youngsters back into the present moment, which can help to reduce stress and calm the nerves.
Have fun: if you are going to tempt them away from their phones, then plan some fun alternatives, like a picnic or a family trip. Board games: okay, so Monopoly might be a bit too long, but try and create some time for old-style, non-digital games, where you can all gather around the table. Curfew: it’s tempting to allow older children greater freedom but a cut-off time for using phones and gadgets will greatly benefit them in the long-term, and improve sleep quality. The impulse to text can be overwhelming, however, so if that means collecting their phones at night then so be it. Unplugged day: try and set aside one day a month, every month, in which the phones stay switched off. Book a nice family day out to distract the youngsters from the fact that they are phone-less if you have to!
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books On Yoga: The Architecture Of Peace Michael O’Neill Taschen £44.99 A stunning visual feast for all yoga lovers, this huge and weighty hardback book contains the work of awardwinning photographer Michael O’Neill. In his near 50-year career, he has photographed the cultural icons of his time, from Andy Warhol to the Dalai Lama. For the last decade he has immersed himself in the culture of yoga, turning his lens on the origins and essence of this ancient and timeless spiritual practice. The result: almost 300 pages of spectacular yoga imagery from the banks of the ancient Ganges River to the glamor of Beverley Hills. A yoga instructor in his own right, O’Neill captures some of the great yogis of our time including Rodney Yee, Shiva Rea and BKS Iyengar, as well as famed celebrity yoga fans like Sting and Christy Turlington. A truly beautiful book.
Further reading: Ommie And The Magical Garden Sirkka Fisk, Ommie, £5.99
An active story book with fold-out instructions, Ommie aims to teach children to experience the positive benefits of yoga in a fun, innovative and accessible way that fits into their daily lives. In this book, Ommie finds a gate that leads into an enchanted garden. Designed for children aged 3-7 but fun for all. Includes a sweet rainbow meditation and simple pose descriptions.
Anodea Judith, Llewellyn Books, $24.99
In this book, acclaimed chakra expert Anodea Judith uses yoga’s principles and practices to help you awaken the subtle body of energy and connect with your highest source. With beautiful color photographs for each of the poses, plus mantras, guided meditation and breathing exercises. Practical and easy to follow, the book is a valuable resource for teachers exploring the chakra system.
om actions My yoga business
I CAN DO IT! Yes, you can make money as a yoga teacher. Claudia Brown tells her story of how she made the leap from newbie teacher to now planning a full-time yoga career
h, I don’t do it for the money; you can’t make money out of yoga..." I hear this all the time. Every week another post will pop up on social media along the lines of, “You’re never going to make a living as a yoga teacher.” But teaching yoga is not the exclusive club of the underpaid - some people struggle to make a living full stop. And anyone running their own business will tell you it can be really challenging, frustrating and sometimes downright impossible. It’s always good to listen to all the differing views offered by people who are actually making a living in the yoga world, but there seems to be so many negative stories and not so many of the positive experiences. My mindset when I decided I wanted to teach yoga was to qualify, hire a venue, put on my own class and ‘they will come’. That
was pretty much the extent of my business planning. I didn’t consider that there were other options. I sorted out my website, got some leaflets printed, wrote a few press releases and set up a Facebook page and twitter account. To begin with, uptake was slow and I felt I was seriously grafting for every single person attending a class, but I kept going. The hall hire was expensive but was in a good location and handy for people who worked in the town center. But soon I was learning some very valuable lessons. Some of the classes just didn’t take off so I begrudgingly stopped one of them. One of the regulars said, ‘Can I come to your house instead with my daughter?’ Private tuition was born. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? But how could I build up attendance at my classes? I was chatting to a work colleague at the photocopier (I currently still work 18 hours a week in local government as a commissioning manager)
and he was telling me about the cycling club he is a member of and that some of his cycling pals might be interested. Next thing I know, a free venue was been provided by one of the cycle club members, a site manager at a local school - the head teacher was happy for us to use the hall, and so six cyclists turned up to my first class. That class is still growing.
I know that human resources departments in local government take employee wellbeing seriously. I spoke to one of the HR staff and we did a deal: I use a meeting room free of charge and County Council staff who come along are charged a cheaper rate. So I run two 45 minute classes over one lunch time and many staff who can’t fit in any exercise after work now do yoga once a week. Employee wellbeing is a big deal nationally and private companies are now
MY TOP TIPS l U se local networks, friends, colleagues, people who already attend your classes, even talk to the person on the checkout at the supermarket. l U se social media – it’s free. Use it – all of the time. l I ncrease your yoga offer. It’s not just about running a class, explore 1-2-1 sessions, workshops, retreats, approach local businesses. l D o it for charity: yoga sessions by donation can still lead to new clients and you support your favorite cause at the same time. l K eep researching and looking for new opportunities. l I nvest in yourself. The more you train and learn, the more skills you have which helps you increase your offer. investing widely in meditation and yoga. I was contacted via my Facebook page by someone who works locally about doing a lunchtime class for their staff. It turns out it’s one of the biggest social marketing agencies in the world who happen to have a base in my town. So social media posts lead to getting one of my best clients. Charity events can be good business as well as good for the soul, so I put on a yoga class to raise money for a local charity. The local college provided me with the venue for free as their head of sport attends one of my classes, and I got into the local newspaper for the first time. So it was a win win win – I raised money for the charity, got three new clients and got some good press from the local paper – which I now write a yoga blog for.
Use your networks and talk about yoga all the time – to professionals, colleagues, families and friends. I picked up a parcel at the post office which had the word ‘yoga’ on it. The lovely chap behind the counter asked me about my classes and his wife came along the next week. Even my mom with her two hip replacements and dodgy knees swears by her chair yoga and tells all her friends how wonderful it is. She will call and tell me, “Hello darling it’s me, I’m feeling all yin and yanged today.” Keep researching: books, magazines, websites, social media feeds, all valuable resources for ideas for classes, ideas for expanding your yoga business. The book,
‘How To Be A Yoga Rockstar’ (written by the editor of this magazine) is a must-have for anyone interested in making yoga more than a hobby. It’s full of helpful advice and guidance as well as real life case studies.
Ongoing training and development is crucial, not only to keep your creative juices flowing when it comes to class plans, but also as a means to increase your yoga offer. I wanted to learn more yoga for sports, so I did some research and came across Sarah Ramsden, yoga teacher to the football stars at Manchester United and Manchester City. I enrolled on her course at the beginning of 2015. Not only is the course fantastic, but it has already led to an amazing opportunity for me as I am now the yoga teacher for premier league football club West Bromwich Albion. I’m planning to take a work break in 2016 for a year to concentrate on becoming a full-time yoga teacher, and I intend to work hard to be successful. I am a trained and experienced professional who has the right to a good hourly rate, and a positive mindset is key to success. Anne-Marie Newland, founder of Sun Power Yoga says, “If you work hard, are honest, and keep your integrity, why shouldn’t you earn a living from it? Even a priest and a doctor get paid, so why not you?” To tell yourself that you can’t make money as a yoga teacher can be a self fulfilling prophecy – you will prove yourself right.
om actions My yoga business Teacher tales
FA C T O R
Is teaching yoga a popularity contest? By Paula Hines
o you think teaching yoga is a popularity contest? I was inspired to address my own thoughts when I heard this very question being posed to Judith Hanson Lasater by her daughter Lizzie (who is also a yoga teacher). I was struck by Lizzie’s words, “Sometimes I catch myself thinking, ‘Oh my class is big today – I must be
great. Oh my class is small today, I’m a bad teacher – they don’t like it.” I certainly recognize this and I am sure that if you have taught for any period of time you will recognize this too. Suppose as a new teacher you are teaching at a big studio with a big client footfall. Does lots of bodies in the room mean that you are a good teacher and/or popular? Does a small number of people in your classes mean the opposite? I’ve been to fantastic classes and workshops with brilliant teachers where you couldn’t squeeze another mat in if you tried. Yet, some of the best and most lasting experiences I’ve had as a student in class have been where you could count on one hand the number of the people in the room. And in every case the smaller
number of people in the room was not a reflection on the quality of the teaching. Also, in the time I have been teaching, since 2011, I have experienced, and still do experience, both ends of the spectrum. Equally, having followers and likes may be good for the ego but it’s not what matters. Being good at social media is not what matters. And even being popular does not really matter. As a teacher, what is it that you are offering? What is it that you are sharing? And are you doing so from a place of authenticity? These are among the questions I regularly ask myself. I am reminded of the words of Maty Ezraty, teaching since 1985, trainer of countless (including some very well-known) yoga teachers, who could herself, externally, be deemed ‘popular’: "Do you want to be a good teacher, or do you want to be a popular teacher?” A provocative question. So, is teaching yoga a popularity contest? My answer to this question is that though it certainly may appear that way at times, when we get to the heart of what really matters… no. What’s your answer?
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)
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How To Be A Yoga Rockstar:
Part 8 of 9
Opening and running your own yoga studio is a tough but achievable dream
pening your own studio is a dream for many yoga teachers - but not all. Though it scores high in the apparent glamor stakes - a gorgeous space to call your own, a place to offer your unique blend of yoga to the world, somewhere to hang out with like-minded friends - it also ranks as one of the most stressful and costly ventures to pursue. Money can be tight. Some studios are big but others are operating by the seat of their pants. Don’t be put off by this, however, if this is genuinely your dream. Some studios do make their owners good money. If you’re someone that enjoys the ride, and will respond in a positive way to all the challenges and stresses that a yoga studio throws up - and there are many - then this might well be for you. On the other hand, if you’re going to be worried sick at project managing the minutest of details, fretting over falling customer numbers, or stalling sales, then it might be best avoided. You need to go into this with your eyes wide open to reduce the possibility of failure. Managing your money is crucial in a project of this scale: opening a studio will entail investment, and probably lots of it, depending on what your plans are and where you’re located. But it can be done. Just look at examples of beautiful and successful studios near to you. No studio owner will tell you it’s easy (it really isn’t), but if you do things right, then it can be well worth the effort and an amazing experience for all involved.
Next time: My Fab Yoga Business For thousands of inspiring yoga business ideas (on studios, workshops, retreats and all other aspects of teaching yoga), plus dozens of case studies from leading experts around the world, read the new book ‘How To Be A Yoga Rockstar: The Ultimate Guide To Making A Living Teaching Yoga’ by OM magazine editor Martin D. Clark. Available on Amazon.
OUT NOW A new book by OM editor, Martin D Clark What people are saying about it: “I wish this book had existed when I did my yoga training course” “I will add it to the recommended reading list for my yoga trainings”
Order: ommagazine.com/shop & amazon.com
Yoga is for every body Your pictures. Your community Snow way! Tamsin Kelly
Who let the dogs out? Canadian Greg Winger gets down with this playful pup
Katarina Eriksson Lรถnnbring and little yogi (Sweden)
om actions Nimita Bhatt - Downtown
Ellina Abkin and pals
Scarlett Rose: James Bond yoga
Sally Bird, Saltburn Beach
Parklife: Rebecca Rudkin
We want your photos!
Send us happy shots, fun pics, great asana (or bad asana!), big smiley faces, anything at all â€“ and see them in OM Magazine. It doesnâ€™t have to be you doing a yoga pose either. We want to see your yoga life: a pre-class group hug, a cup of tea after class, what you got up to at the weekend, send them all via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
giveaways Yoga Eye Pillows A new collection of unique yoga eye pillows. Created in a range of beautiful fabrics whilst maintaining a strong commitment to low-impact production and social consciousness. Simple beautiful things with as little cost to human rights and the environment as possible.
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£15 | available from breatherelaxsmile.co.uk
Enter online at ommagazine.com/eyepillow Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic by Rebecca Leffler Eat (and live) the new french way with plant-based, glutenfree recipes for every season. Globally inspired, but with lots of French accents, all 150 plant-based recipes are free of gluten, soy, and refined sugar. Leffler organizes them the natural way: by season.
$19.95 | available from theexperimentpublishing.com
The Affirmations Coloring Book by Louise Hay & Alberta Hutchinson In this affirmations coloring book, world-famous teacher Louise Hay combines the lifechanging powers of affirmations with the profound positive effects of creativity. This stunning coloring book features 44 affirmations, each coupled with an exquisite illustration and decorative border.
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£9.99 | available from hayhouse.co.uk
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Yogagenda Handbook 2016 The new edition of this 3-in-1 yearly planner, yoga handbook and personal journal. Cocreated with the help of yoga experts from different corners of the world, Yogagenda 2016 is a practical and dynamic publication that reflects the rich creativity and knowledge at the heart of the yoga community worldwide. Its planner section includes calendars with moon phases, solstices, equinoxes and eclipses. Its handbook section features yoga articles, world-wide yoga celebrations, asanas, recipes and much more, with beautiful images throughout.
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TO GIV E AWAY
£16.95 | available from yogagendas.com
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Notes from the Universe Coloring Book By Mike Dooley In his fun, warm and down-to-earth style, Dooley combines uplifting quotes with beautiful images, which awaken our inner child and transport us to a world where everything is possible. Comforting, inspiring, uplifting, encouraging - this coloring book will do more than awaken your creativity, it will give you the confidence to take life into your own hands and will give you the loving, encouraging boost you need to set you on the path to making your dreams come true.
£9.99 | available from hayhouse.co.uk
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Awe-inspiring retreats and ideas for yoga explorers
Under African skies
Enjoy expansive African skies and immerse yourself in the animal kingdom on an eight-day Zambian yoga safari Exotic Yoga Retreats are now taking bookings for a visit next year to the Luangwa Valley where you’ll enjoy a walking safari paired with yoga and meditation in one of Africa’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas. The yoga experience will be lead by Exotic Yoga Retreats founder, Gayle Olson, with classes and meditations conducted outside to the sounds of the savannah. Sleep in romantic huts with comfy beds and en-suite bathrooms that open to the stars in deluxe eco camps set deep in the wilderness. Other home comforts include hot water and solar lighting. Your safari guide is Brent Harris who grew up barefoot amongst Zulu and Xhosa friends on a farm in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, so you’ll be in good hands. The Exotic Yoga Retreats Zambia experience runs from August 3-11, 2016. Price: $5,995 pp shared room or $7,995 for single room. Excludes airfares. Visit: exoticyogaretreats.com
om travel India in style Great if you want to soak up the magic of yoga’s birthplace but are a nervy traveller Secret Retreats has expanded across more Asian countries with 10 exquisite new properties, including some deluxe Indian residences like Nimmu House, Ladakh. An architectural jewel built by one of the King of Ladakh’s cousins, this unique 30-room home features two Buddhist temples, stables, and a large orchard laden with hundreds of apricot, apple and walnut trees. Nestled at 3,100 meters above sea level, embrace Himalaya’s rich cultural heritage and breathe that pure, fresh mountain air. Visit: secret-retreats.com
Rebel Yoga Movement TEACHER TRAINING
500 hr YA Course £3000 Learn to teach: • A Bikram method class • Sun Salutations • Warrior Poses • Inversions & Arm Balances • Meditation
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An ayurvedic journey Explore all things ayurveda at the lush Shanti Maurice resort Boutique Mauritian resort, Shanti Maurice, is celebrating the ancient practices of ayurveda with the launch of its first AyurvedicYoga Journey retreat which runs throughout this month. The 5, 7 and 14 day dedicated programs will educate guests on the traditional Hindu medicine systems, uniting these methods with specialized yogic practice and nutrition. Guests will be introduced to ayurvedic cuisine, learning to use food as medicine to support their body through a selection of nutrition workshops. As well as yoga, active guests can sign up for paddle board yoga, Watsu, aqua aerobics, Pilates, jogging, fusion fitness and even a yoga bike tour (well worth it: the resort is set within a gorgeous coral cove on the largely untouched south coast of Mauritius). Perfect for the nomadic, bohemian-chic traveller. Watch out for more ayurvedic experiences at: shantimaurice.com
300 hr YA Course £950 • Sun Salutations & Warrior • Inversions & Arm Balances • Extra Postures • Meditation • Physical Adjustments • Avoiding Injury • Class Design & Sequencing
Our retreats are all inclusive of UK flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation in a shared ensuite room, food and drinks and 4-5 optional classes per day.
Raw & Juicy £880 18th – 24th June
Ayurvedic Detox £880 25th June – 1st July
Gourmet week £880 3rd – 9th September
Goumet week £880
10th – 16th September 121
WILD WELLBEING Kate Wickers explores the yoga and the wildlife in Africa’s stunning Serengeti region
hat’s baboon kopje (rock),” Yogi Sajeesh tells me, opening the doors on to the terrace of the yoga pavilion and pointing to where I can see four handsome baboons lounging and grooming each other lazily in the late afternoon sunshine. “But don’t worry they never join us for yoga.” I’m staying at the wonderfully luxurious Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania and strange as it may sound I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so at one with nature. My suite has floor to ceiling windows and a terrace with a plunge pool with views on to the Serengeti plains – miles and miles of golden brown savannah, with just the passing zebra or distant hot air balloon to interrupt the view. It couldn’t be more beautiful. The fact that it is a five star lodge doesn’t stop a tiny emerald green lizard hopping in to my bed or an elephant strolling through the grounds. There’s nothing but Masai guards and elevated wooden walkways between guests and the wildlife but it feels reassuringly safe.
The wellness trail
I am visiting for two reasons: the wildlife of course but also to unwind and relax and try out some of the lodge’s new ‘wellness program’, including yoga. I’m up early by 6am each morning and it’s chilly at that hour but I still
choose to breakfast on the terrace to catch the sunrise, so the attentive staff wrap a Masai shawl around my shoulders and serve me piping tea made with cardamom and ginger. I’m in the safari jeep by 7am with Priscus, my guide. Dawn is when the animals are most active and within minutes of leaving the lodge we come across a female adult cheetah and two young right by the side of the road. I realise just how rare this is when Priscus reaches for his camera. We head to the river where hippos, packed like sardines, snort and play fight while Nile crocodiles languish on the banks. Lilac breasted rollers light up the sky; vast herds of zebra scatter as we approach; and we spot a leopard sleeping in a tree next to his kill, a Thompson gazelle that he has hauled in to the branches. Perhaps though it’s the sheer number of lion that is the most remarkable – we count eighteen just in one spot, lunching on a zebra.
On the mat
There’s a wide range of yoga on offer from therapeutic Laughter Yoga (a nice one for families) to De-stress and Healing Rituals. I book a private yoga class with Sajeesh, although you can join one of the complimentary group sessions. I am stiff after my long journey of three flights and a morning of bouncing around on dirt tracks and
om travel hope for a gentle class of stretching and relaxation but Sajeesh has other plans. “You must work harder,” he tells me gently. “Not just practice what comes easy to you.” He’s right of course and he gently talks me through a set of invigorating sun salutations to wake up my muscles and help fight fatigue.
“Dawn is when the animals are most active and within minutes of leaving the lodge we come across a female adult cheetah and two young right by the side of the road.” One of the most popular yoga activities is the Sunset Nature Kopje Walk. It begins with a nature walk with a Masai warrior, who points out animal tracks and plants that the Masai use in their everyday life. It’s a leisurely uphill stroll to a plateau on a large kopje, where we sit in the lotus position to watch the sun dip and set crimson with a reflection in the sky opposite, while Sajeesh guides us through meditation. I feel like I am sitting in a circle of warmth and it’s not difficult to empty my mind but neither have I felt more aware of my surroundings.
Around the lodge
The spa consists of six boma (Masai hut) style pavilions linked by raised walkways. There are outside tubs on private decks, used for therapeutic baths, where you can remain at one with nature, listening to the birdcall or trumpet of an elephant, while soaking. I’m handed a glass of milky sweet-smelling liquid, known to the Masai as youth juice. This is the juice from the fruit of the Baobab Tree (known as the tree of life and so popular with primates it is nicknamed monkey bread) and it is packed with vitamin C. To my taste buds it is a delicious blend of apple, grapefruit and vanilla. I sip it while my feet are scrubbed with rough leaves from the sandpaper tree (plucked from a type of fig tree in the lodge’s grounds), before my blissful burudika (Swahili for relaxing) massage, using black pepper and wild ginger with baobab oil. Africa’s traditional healers and medicinal use of local plants inspire the Africology range, used by the spa, and the ingredients list more like a delicious shopping list. The lodge’s most spectacular feature is its infinity pool, set just a couple of meters above a watering hole. I am told that elephants often come to drink there but this doesn’t prepare me for the thrill of watching the entrance of the first herd of more than fifty, including three novices of just a few months whose trunks aren’t yet long enough to reach the water. I stay transfixed at the pool, swimming as each new herd arrives. I have to pinch myself to believe it’s true as by sunset I’ve counted over one hundred elephants. I leave wondering if this travel experience will ever be topped and feeling energized and inspired by all I’ve experienced. I’m also determined to remember the peace I have found, created by the comfortingly cyclical nature of life on the Serengeti plains.
FACT FILE Kate flew with Kenya Airways to Kilimanjaro via Nairobi. Return adult fares with dialaflight.com start at £754, although Kenya Airways do occasionally offer special fares that are lower. Visit: kenya-airways.com Flights direct from Kilimanjaro to Seronera Airstrip in the Serengeti National Park start at £170 Go to coastal.co.tz for latest schedule Rooms at Four Seasons Serengeti Safari Lodge start at £998 inc. of taxes, based on two people sharing, including breakfast. Stay four nights and you only pay for three. For latest offers go to fourseasons.com/serengeti Abercrombie & Kent offer 7 nights for 2 people starting at £5,995 per person, including international and internal flights, park fees, a private A&K vehicle and guide for the duration for safaris. Go to abercrombiekent.co.uk Private yoga classes start at around £65, while group sessions start at £20.
Sally’s Army A blissful yoga weekender at Brooklands Barn with Sally Parkes. By Martin D. Clark
hen you sign up for a yoga retreat with a teacher you don’t really know, and to a place you’ve never been before, it’s a little bit of a leap in the dark. Sure, the pictures on the website always look nice, but then so too do those holiday brochures selling package tours to foreign hotels that have yet to be built (electricwires poking out of the walls, seventh floor balconies with no railings…you get the picture). In this case, I was heading out to the rolling hills of West Sussex for a weekend retreat hosted by Sally Parkes at Brooklands Barn, a stunning 19th century barn conversion outside Arundel. I’d met Sally before, very briefly, but had never been to one of her classes and couldn’t really lay claim to knowing what she was all about as a teacher. So I threw myself into the experience, ready for two whole days of yoga, Pilates and meditation, as well as some scrumptious vegetarian food in-between. As it turned out, I had one of the best and most enjoyable yoga breaks I’d ever had.
When I arrived on Friday afternoon, I was
greeted by Sally and immediately picked up the relaxed vibe of the retreat, which I really liked. The kitchen crew – veggie experts Cashew Catering (cashewcatering.co.uk) – were busy preparing that evening’s feast in the main building, and the other guests were milling about getting acquainted. After being shown my room, conveniently located adjacent to the yoga studio (so no excuses for those early morning sessions. Damn!), I was given a mini tour. With just 10 bedrooms, Brooklands Barn is pretty intimate, which helps to create the family-like atmosphere. It’s actually one of a couple of venues that Sally Parkes uses for her popular weekend retreats. The barn itself is located just a short walk from the historic town of Arundel, and its resplendent castle. To me, this sounded sufficiently like Arendelle (from the movie Frozen) so I told my children that was where I was heading for the weekend to catch up with princesses Anna and Elsa, which they gladly accepted. I’m happy to report though that there were no princesses or prima donnas in sight in the yoga room, a testimony to the easy-going energy radiated by Sally and her friendly team. This is a relaxed yoga retreat, with downto-earth people, and no pretention.
om travel Yoga room
The yoga itself was led by Sally and another teacher, Anna Brook, who each took turns with the morning and evening sessions. It was challenging at times but tailored for a mixed ability class, and varied too, so there was always something for everyone to enjoy each time. There was also Pilates in the middle of the day (including an outdoors class when the sun was shining), as well as yoga nidra and meditation. In fact, if ever there was a voice that was made for guided meditation then it has to be Anna Brook, Sally’s secret weapon, who guided us through some rather beautiful quiet time. It’s a delight to just listen to the imagery or powerful invocations, even if you’re not a natural meditator, or if your minds as busy as a box of frogs (we’ve all be there!). In the space of about 48 hours it’s actually quite a lot of fitness work to cram in, so your body will know all about it when you leave – but in a good way.
Out and about
Away from the yoga room, there was time to relax in the courtyard and soak up the sun, explore the gardens, or get to know fellow guests. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, massage and other treatments available, and a cool-looking eco sauna pod that looks like something out of The Hobbit. Most people strolled into Arundel at some point to mingle with the tourists, scale the steep castle steps, or check out the farmer’s stalls that spilled out onto the streets. For those that stay behind, though, Brooklands Barn offers panoramic views of the Sussex downs and the castle which is clearly visible.
Inside, there’s also wifi available (for those who just can’t help themselves), plus free herbal teas throughout the day and lots of places to curl up with a good book. The weather was fine when I was there but in the winter it must be a very snuggly place to be as well.
When I eventually left on Sunday afternoon, I walked out with that oh-so-amazing feeling of being totally rejuvenated, at ease both mentally and physically. It also felt like I was saying a fond farewell to genuine family. People often ask me what makes a great yoga retreat and, ultimately, I think it’s the people you share your journey with. Yes, the surroundings were spotless (I actually complained that I couldn’t find a drishti point to focus on during a balance because the walls were too clean), the yoga tuition first-rate, and the food both plentiful and healthful. But it’s the other things that make for those most memorable experiences, just chatting to like-minded people at meal times, or idling about in such a fun, friendly and relaxed space. I think that ambience was a credit to the retreat leader and her team, and their ability to create such an environment. At the end of it all, we took away a piece of healthy(ish) cake for the journey home, and set off to join the M25. As for me, I’m off to join Sally’s army. Now, where do I sign up?
Sally Parkes is hosting more yoga weekends throughout November, December and all through 2016. For a full list of events visit: sallyparkesyoga.com
Practice in paradise www.paradiseretreats.yoga #paradiseretreats.yoga Upcoming Yoga & Standup Paddleboard Yoga retreats in Tulum Mexico email@example.com
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:
Rosie Deane 50 Ascot, Berkshire VYASA Yoga Singapore: Yin Yoga Anatomy Course, Singapore: Yoga Alliance (USA); Meditation with Vikas Malkani of Soul Center, Singapore Specializm: Women’s health, Meditation Made Simple Describe yourself as a color Green makes me feel peaceful and connected to nature. Morning or night person Definitely a morning person. By 10.30pm in the evening I am generally falling asleep after a full day. I like to rise early and run through some physical practices, not necessarily purely yoga, but also stretching and meditating. If I can do at least five minutes of meditation it makes a big difference to me. It’s more about having a discipline to be able to start the day calmly and thoughtfully. Favorite meal Salad Nicoise because of the combination of flavours and textures. Having lived in Asia, I also have a love of curries. My husband, Ken, cooks a wonderful Malaysian curry (and it tastes even better having been cooked for me!). We have a son who is on a gluten-free diet so rice features in many of our home meals. Most memorable holiday This is difficult because I have travelled extensively but I think my most memorable holiday was to Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation made up of roughly 80 small islands. I remember sailing around the archipelago on a tall ship, climbing a volcano and exploring the beaches. Tropical Cyclone Pam hit the islands not long ago creating a humanitarian disaster, which reminded me of the generosity of spirit of the local people.
Favorite book I am thinking of a novel entitled Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams of Watership Down fame. Although I read it some years ago it’s a book you don’t forget easily, it lurks in the back of your mind. It keeps you in suspense right to the very end – and if I had more spare time I would definitely read it again and again. Other than that, the books that are by my bedside are usually to do with yoga and health (at the moment that’s Natural Health and Weight Loss by Barry Grove). Best light-bulb moment I can remember this happening while I was attending an anatomy workshop presented by Paul Grilley. In the workshop it was explained that our bone structure is different for everyone. It’s important to recognize we are not all made the same – we each have our own internal identity, and therefore, the way we move is individual too. So we cannot all accomplish yoga positions in the same way, it takes practice to get to know your own body, and the way it can be encouraged to stretch, twist, and align. Happiest moment to date For me this is the present moment – now, today. It’s irreplaceable. We can be happy in every moment. It’s all about making your mind be ‘still’. I learnt this from my meditation teacher (Vikas Malkani of Soul Center) and I am certified to teach his program of Meditation Made Simple here in the UK. Wish for anything – what would it be I think my wish would be for everyone to practice yoga. It would halve the country’s health costs and make the world a more peaceful place to live in. Yoga is the need of the hour. Naughty but nice A gin and tonic in the garden on a summer’s evening with my husband.
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Courses & Classes DEVON The Devon School of Yoga The Devon School of Yoga. Established 1989. Two year Teacher Training Course (500hr). Five month Foundation course (100hr). Two year Postgraduate Yoga Therapy Course (250hr). Day Workshops, Weekend Residentials UK, North India Retreats. Experienced team. Twenty-six years of inspiration. Phone: 01392 420573 Email: email@example.com Web: www.devonyoga.com
ESSEX Iyengar Yoga Center for Essex (IYCE) Established 1995 to improve Iyengar Yoga in Essex. Provides: class information; workshops & yoga days; IYCE News; & teacher training. Teachers are registered to use the Iyengar Certification Mark. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.iyce.com
UK VARIOUS LOCATIONS Seasonal Yoga teacher Training Connecting students with their true nature. Our training is for those who wish to teach yoga or go on a journey of self development. 200 hour Yoga Alliance approved RYT, Glasgow, Cobham, Surrey, Palma Mallorca, Helsinki Finland. Phone: 07966 875208 Email: email@example.com Web: www.seasonalyoga.co.uk Seasonal Yoga Online For professionals, Seasonal conversion course, at home study online course. in season, 5 seasons, over 1 year. Over 50 videos and 30 hours of info in each season. ÂŁ149 per season. Phone: 07966 875208 Web: www.seasonalyogaonline.com
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I got the music in me
Crafting the perfect yoga soundtrack. Lexie Williamson
missive pinged into my inbox recently from one of my employers: a well-known chain of gyms. It stated that us yoga instructors were no longer allowed to play music in class for licensing reasons, apart from a list of pre-agreed bland stuff you hear in beauticians. Some teachers at the gym treated the no-music announcement with indifference. They like a reverential hush in the studio apart from the sound of deep breathing, toes sticking and unsticking on mats and the odd tummy gurgle. I’m not one of them. I love to play music. I believe it can fast-track time-pressed, harassed students into the yoga zone, suspend them there for an hour and lay them softly into savasana – if you craft the playlist correctly. It can also provide the perfect backdrop to self practice. Many a happy evening has been spent concocting the ‘perfect’ yoga playlist for vinyasa flow. So what denotes a perfect playlist? For me, there are a few rules. Firstly, it must contain no obvious lyrics to distract or annoy so play the track all the way through to monitor the words. I recently aired a trippy version of a Bob Marley tune only to hear Burnin’ and Lootin’ drifting across the studio.
Secondly, your selected tunes should be timeless. Some music is hard to pin down to a time or place. Legendary music man and inventor of the ambient sound Brian Eno is the master to consult. A good trawl around Spotify will also unearth some classic gems but clear your diary as this takes time. Thirdly, watch your beats. In my opinion they should be non-existent (classical piano works well) or low-key, quiet and unobtrusive. Thomas Newman’s entire American Beauty film sound track is pure gold and dub reggae could be made for sun salutations. There are many teachers, of course, who would disagree with this last rule and regularly blast pop or rock songs out in class. I had a fantastic teacher and DJ who pushed the music/yoga boundaries with mostly excellent results although 80’s pop didn’t work for me personally. I was transported from the yoga studio to acne, heartache and the school disco. My last and final rule is that a good playlist mirrors the mountain-like curves of a flow yoga class. That means beginning with soft, gentle tunes, gradually upping the tempo for the standing sequences then easing back into mellow tunes as the students lower to the floor. Oh and go easy on the Indian flute. You can definitely over egg the Indian flute. Still stuck for tunes? Select Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’, roll out the mat, close your eyes and off you go.
Lexie Williamson is a yoga teacher and health and fitness writer (pulseyoga.co.uk)
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