BEX FETHERSTONE EDITOR
BEEZ from 106STORIES DESIGN
CONTRIBUTORS AMBRA VALLO ASHLEY GALVIN BRIOHNY SMYTH CHRISTINE HEWITT DAVID NEALE DYLAN WERNER EDWARD SERRANO EMMA ARNOLD JENNIFER CORDERO KINO MACGREGOR LAURA KASPERZAK LIZ ARCH
LIZZY SNAPE NICK BREWER RACHEL BRATHEN SAM SETTLE STEPHANIE BIRCH TOM & JEN HARVEY
PUBLISHED BY 106STORIES LIMITED 22 LYMINGTON RD LONDON NW6 1HY
ADVERTISE IN DRAZE COVER
CONTACT ABIZER KAPADIA
PHOTO by ROBERT STURMAN
WRITE FOR DRAZE
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Balance, Breath & Boards
Kale Enlightenment The Accidental Yogi
From Sentencing to Svasana Feature
Yoga on Snow
Onzie A/W 2014 Collection Review
Yogarise Peckham Studio/Class Review
Most Inspiring Images of 2014 Instagram
raze is the new yogi’s periodical. We were fed up of poorly constructed yoga websites, endless articles about gluten-free recipes, and the complete dearth of any interesting nitty-gritty yoga articles. So instead of standing on our heads moaning about it, we decided to meditate for a bit and hope for the best. When that didn’t work, we founded Draze.
The past few months have been a crazy haze of pondering, proofreading, photographs, printing, and then practicing in the few spare minutes we had left over. We’re sure as can be though, that the end product was worth all of those other ‘p’s. To be sure there were times when we were not sure we’d make it, but we closed our eyes, did some ujayi breathing, and bought a huge whiteboard and some colourful pens (because everybody needs a bit
of stationery to get them through tough times), and now here we are, and we’re very pleased that you’ve joined us! Whether you’re just beginning your foray into backbends and hip openers, or you’re a seasoned yogi who spends your life upside-down, if you’re looking for a place to find studio reviews, teacher interviews, top yoga tips and the best new yoga gear, all at absolutely no cost, then look no further. Draze. celebrates yoga in all its beautiful glory, and aims to bring you the latest info on the stuff you really want to know. We’re here to listen to you, so if there’s something you want to see from your yogi newspaper, or you think you might like to contribute, then give us a shout (we can’t teach you enlightenment though, sorry).
Bex Fetherstone Editor
STUDIO STOCKISTS Thank you to all the studios who’ve supported us! To join this list contact firstname.lastname@example.org LONDON: Jivamukti Yoga Kensal Rise The Life Centre Notting Hill & Islington Frame Shoreditch & Queen's Park Evolve Wellness Centre South Kensington Stretch London Fields & Shoreditch Good Vibes Covent Garden & Fritzrovia The Light Centre Belgravia & Moorgate Yotopia Covent Garden Embody Wellness Vauxhall The Special Yoga Centre Kensal Rise Yoga Centric Crouch End Lumi Power Yoga Hammersmith Samsara Mind and Body Wandsworth Yogarise Peckham Peckham Victor’s Lab Bussey Peckham Body Align Elephant & Castle Down To Earth Tufnell Park The House of Yoga Putney Yoga on the Lane Dalston BIRMINGHAM Yoga Sweat Town Centre Barefoot Yoga Harborne BYoga Walsall LIVERPOOL Planet Yoga ABERDEEN Love Yoga
photo CHRISTINE HEWITT
CHRISTINE HEWITT Photographer Interview
could process and print our own photos and after that I went on to study photography in college. How did the yoga and photography come together? In
2011 I decided to travel to India. I love travelling, well, love is an understatement, travelling is way of life for me. I thought India would be a great place to be with my new found interest in yoga. After about a month there, I started taking pictures of friends doing asanas and it just blossomed from there.
How do you think your camera sheds a new light on yoga? I am as interested (and I want others to be
hristine Hewitt was born and raised in Canada, but now calls the world her home. Her passion is images and since graduating in 2004 from Sheridan College’s photography programme she has travelled the world capturing her subjects and their surroundings in a fine balance of aesthetic appeal, visual interest and storytelling. Her work can be seen at www. yogicphotos.com and www.chrishewittphotos.com
as interested) in the scene in which I place the asana, as I am in the asana itself. Yoga is unity, it is life, and it is a way of being, and when you think about it like that, everything becomes yoga. We each have our own tools for reaching realization and I can only capture a small fraction of all that encompasses a person’s journey to higher consciousness. My aim is to do this well, hopefully tell a bit of a story, and to do it with truth.
How did you come to yoga? I became interest-
And equally how do you think yoga brings out something new in photography? Simply being around
ed in yoga in 2010, I was living out of my van in Key West, Florida and there was a woman teaching free yoga classes on the beach every morning. My boyfriend at the time and I, got a little obsessed and went out and bought every yoga book we could find. The beach is a great place to learn to do headstands, it’s a soft landing!
How did you come to photography? My first recol-
lection of taking pictures was in a photography club with my teacher and three other students. We would meet once a week after school and take pictures. I remember vividly making everyone throw autumn leaves up in the air so I could take a photo of them falling down in front of the camera. Later, I took some photography classes in high school, where we had a darkroom so we
someone who is very dedicated to yoga asanas, and watching them strive to perfect their asanas with patience and grace in front of the camera, can be very inspiring. For me, it teaches the lesson that if you put your heart into anything, you will achieve some sort of greatness. Yoga can be a form of retreating from the hustle and bustle of the everyday and reflecting. Does being behind a camera offer the same sort of space, or does it draw you more into the world around you? What photogra-
phy has the capacity to do is separate you from what is happening all around you. It allows you to see the world as an observer, rather than a participant, and therefore achieve some sort neutrality in regards to what is going on. You can stop judging, and just be. In that way, it’s a form of yoga.
How would you respond to those who say that yoga should only ever be a personal practice and therefore should not be photographed? Yoga should be whatever
anyone wants and needs it to be for themselves. If you gain insight, perspective and a higher state of consciousness from doing humanitarian work then that is what you should be doing. Gosh, if you gain it from running naked through the streets, then that is what you should be doing! Taking photos of asanas has put me in a position of bearing witness to some harsh opinions from people who, well, have harsh opinions. I feel it is dangerous to have strong opinions about people or situations that you do not have a complete insight into, because that is not a true opinion, but a judgment. These photos are a collaboration of hard work, dedication, art, fun and life. If people cannot see that in the images, that is their loss.
Do you take photos for others, or for yourself? I take them for myself 99% of the time. I really, really love taking pictures. I live and breathe photography, it is my tool and my path, the still image captivates my soul. The other 1% is motivated by a need to make a living, but I wouldnâ€™t suggest photography as a career to anyone who wants to make money! Passion is the only thing that makes it worthwhile. What do you want your viewers to take from your work? Like yoga, I want them to take from it what-
ever they need. Motivation, inspiration, even confusion or disagreement. Whatever they are taking from it is precisely what they need to be taking.
photo CHRISTINE HEWITT
WINTER PLAYLIST Funk & Soul
last away those cobwebs, shake off the chill, crank up the funk and heat up your 60 minute practice with our guided winter practice playlist.
3 x Sun Salute A
12 Apostles Flevans
3 x Sun Salute B
Forgetting to Remember Kinny/Horne
Pushin On Quantic Soul Orchestra
Funk e Saravah Saravah Soul
Soul 69 A-Ko
Why Me Kinny/Horne
Feeling Good Quantic Soul Orchestra
Time Is The Enemy Quantic
The Light (Eric Lau Seated Postures Remix) Funkommunity Beijos DJ Vadim
For You Lack of Arfo
A Grand Love Theme Kid Loco
Infra 5 Max Richiter
KALE ENLIGHTENMENT WORDS THE ACCIDENTAL YOGI
“At lunch with my boss and telling her all about you. She drinks kale smoothies, you’d love her”.
nd just like that, with one text from a best friend, I came face-to-face with the yogic stereotype for the millionth time this year. I practice yoga five or six times a week, and I like kale, I do, but I also like cake, and sausage and full-fat coleslaw. When people realise that you’re into yoga, like really into yoga, they often seem to experience an epiphany which tells them about the kind of person you really are. In the morning you awaken with a serene smile, cartwheel out of bed and into the shower, where you rub yourself down with tea tree and eucalyptus, shortly before lathering yourself in coconut oil and cleaning out your insides with a hot cloth. You probably manage to fit a little colonic irrigation into that morning routine too. You board the number 12 to Oxford Circus, chant your way through the traffic, levitate above the Sunday morning shopping crowds and float into Tri Yoga’s Soho studio in your bare feet, your mala beads swinging gently against the white, Indian cotton of your broderie anglaise beach dress. As much as I, and probably all yogis, would love to fulfil this stereotype, this is not how I run my life, or rather, how my life runs itself. This morning I awoke to the hideous ringing of my alarm, which makes the kind of noise you’d expect to come out of a strangled cat. I hid underneath my duvet for five minutes and then slid out onto the bedroom floor, landing on last night’s half-finished glass of wine, which promptly flooded out onto the underwear I’d strategically dumped alongside it. After clearing up this mess I aimed to do a quick half-hour yoga practice, which I got a grand total of ten minutes through, before giving in to the enticing smell of buttery bagels and the sound of my flatmates nattering about the latest “man situation”. I stopped half way through my fifth sun salute and joined in this frivolity, wolfed down a coffee and then jumped into the shower, where I squirted Asda shower gel into my eye and banged my head on the broken bathroom cupboard. This evening I will rush home from work on my
broken bike and hopefully get to my yoga class on time, but I’ll arrive sweaty and unkempt and spend the warm-up thinking about whether I remembered to turn my phone onto silent. I might manage to switch my mind off for a brief window, but then we’ll reach forearm stand (pincha mayurasana), at which point I’ll try and avoid the teacher’s help in order to avoid being made to be upside-down. Then, we’ll reach the bliss of svasana, and I’ll be wondering if there is anything in the house for dinner, and whether or not I offended my boyfriend when I told him not to wear those boxer shorts again. Like we all do, I go through phases of becoming a new person – a yogic being. I convince myself that if I buy this prop, or attend that workshop, I will be transformed. I will ooze calm and radiate serenity. The other day I bought a homemade kale and apple smoothie from a little stall in Southwark. I popped it into my backpack, in preparation for an energy boost later on, and then promptly went about my day and forgot all about it. I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of an explosion; I turned on the bedroom light and was greeted with the sight of a green, gooey catastrophe. Fermented kale juice was artistically splattered up the walls, across the mirror, all over the blinds, and on the bed. I took a deep breath and tried not to get annoyed, picked my limbs up and out of bed, and started a 4am clean up. I cleaned slowly, calmly and methodically, trying to laugh at the idea that perhaps some higher power was telling me that kale juice was not the answer. That’s when I realised that I was doing yoga. Ok, so I didn’t have my legs behind my head, and I wasn’t chanting in Sanskrit, but I was merrily going about a task that would previously have riled and infuriated me No, I have not found enlightenment, and no I do not sleep standing on my head, all I do is try to practice yoga, both on and off the mat. Most of the time, I’m pretty unsuccessful at it, but all I can do is try, in the hope that one day I’ll be able to levitate above those Sunday morning shoppers. Maybe I’ll go and order that broderie anglaise beach dress now.
BRIOHNY SMYTH Empowered yogini
while back, a month or so into a 200-hour vinyasa flow teacher training course, I happened upon a video on Youtube. I had reached a particularly difficult stumbling block in my own practice, and was struggling to remember why I had begun my teacher training journey in the first place. Every weekday was filled with my day job, and every evening and weekend was filled with yoga, I was burning out and could see neither the beginning nor the end. A classmate from training mentioned a yoga video, ‘Equinox’, which I boredly googled later on whilst clutching a very un-yogic coffee and Chunky KitKat. For some reason, this video struck a chord within me. Here was a woman who had made the effort to drag herself out of bed before her hunky man had awoken, rather than looking at the clock and burying her head under the covers. Here was a woman who was practicing in her underwear in front of a huge floor-to-ceiling window, at ease with what the world may or may not think of her exposed flesh. Here was a woman who had taken my tired shuffle to the yoga mat in my cramped living room, and made it look like something graceful, something beautiful, and something which could empower, rather than drain me. I put down my KitKat, and rolled out my mat. I was back on track. Perhaps you know the story of world-famous yogini ▶
Briohny Smyth, who starred as the elegant handstander in that fateful video, but more likely than not, you don’t. Briohny first shot to stardom, not for her impeccable inversions and perfectly poised arm balances, but rather as a child pop star in Asia. After years struggling with an eating disorder, in 1999 Briohny discovered yoga on a trip to Thailand and has never looked back. Yoga remained a firm friend throughout her recovery, the birth of her first child, and most recently her marriage to now husband and fellow yogi, Dice Iida-Klein and the birth of their son. Briohny can now be found travelling the world and teaching her signature ‘Fit Flow’ classes. You’ve said that the Equinox video is about empowered women, how has yoga empowered you? I found yoga at the age of 15 after torturing my body with anorexia and bulimia for years. I always felt insecure and selfconscious about my body and even though I practiced yoga, I still found it difficult to quiet my negative thoughts. I constantly put myself down for these feelings and thought I would feel better if I was skinnier. When I was 17 I ended up in hospital with exhaustion and a friend recommended meditation. The combination of asanas, pranayama, and meditation slowly changed my life; I realised that I would never be able to rid myself of negative thoughts so I started to treat myself with compassion rather than anger. Through yoga, I gained tools to deal with my negative feelings rather than sweeping them under the rug. Yoga empowered me to be responsible for my actions and thoughts. Where do you get inspiration for your classes and practice? The teacher that inspires me most in both my practice and my teaching is my husband, Dice Iida-Klein. He is so open-minded and accepting of different modalities of movement and is constantly inspiring me to expand my comfort zone. Because we have turned our passion for yoga into a career, staying inspired is incredibly important to both of us. As Dice always says, we are “students first, teachers second.” There can be a fine line between yoga and other sports such as gymnastics and acrobatics, what do you think makes yoga different? I have learned so much from gymnastics and acrobatics about the function of muscles and how they work together to hold a pose. When I teach asanas I apply a lot of the knowledge which comes from these sports, but yoga is not just about exercise and movement, it is a practice that
serves to better every aspect of our lives and help us to become more present. When I teach, I try my best to remind yogis to breathe, it’s so easy to lose sight of the breath, but that’s the key factor that separates yoga from acrobatics or gymnastics and keeps us present. When I practice, I try to lead every transition with my breath, I love the ‘yoga high’ after a breath-focussed practice! Do you ever get frustrated in your practice or stop practicing completely? How do you get around your frustration if so? Yoga is a life-long practice, it is about the journey, not the destination, but I do get frustrated when I don’t make time to practice. The past couple of years have been busy and my body hasn’t bounced back as quickly as it did after my first pregnancy. I sometimes find myself surfing Instagram and feeling sorry for myself when I look in the mirror, or see pictures of my belly now versus then. As soon as I start to experience those negative feelings, no matter where I am, I’ve learnt to ‘pause’. My favorite meditation guru, Pema Chodrun, recommends ‘pausing’. Close your eyes and concentrate on three full breath cycles. This always helps focus my mind on the beauty around me, and it’s just a different way of practicing yoga! Do you and Dice practice together? How does it contribute to the dynamic of your relationship? We practice together all the time, whether it is in public classes, or at home doing acro and handstands with the family. On our first date we went to a yoga class together, had sushi for dinner, and talked about yoga non-stop! Basically, we both love yoga and love sharing our passion for yoga with one another. Amidst all of our travel and responsibilities, yoga helps us to reconnect with one another. How has your practice changed since having children? The birth of my daughter in 2004 changed my life. I was anorexic and bulimic and had been torturing my body, but the moment I knew I was pregnant I found the strength to stop. Since then, I have dedicated my yoga practice to keeping my mind and body healthy. My post-pregnancy experience with my son Sydney has been more challenging than my first, I am older and my body is not recovering as quickly as it did. This has made my yoga practice even more important in helping me to make sure that I allow enough time to take care of myself, so that I can be the best mum and wife possible. How do you manage to fit in practicing around so much travelling? Making time to practice is one of the
biggest challenges these days. Between the kids’ activities, coordinating travel, and dealing with jet lag we don’t have much extra time. We make it work by practicing either before the kids wake up, or after they go to bed, and when we travel we practice in hotel rooms or at local studios. We used to travel with a mat and a yoga towel but now, with all of the baby stuff, I’ve learnt that all I really need when I travel is my favourite leggings and a bra! What do you hope people will take away from attending your classes or watching your practice? Our main focus when we teach is to have fun and allow the fun to help yogis become more present in their bodies. A physical yoga practice is probably the most accessible way to start bringing yoga into your life, but it still isn’t easy. Many practitioners end up getting injured because they learn the poses by looking around the room instead of listening to alignment cues. Most people, including myself, are only hearing half of what a teacher is saying, so we make sure to help people fine
tune their foundational postures, so they can practice yoga more mindfully and look after their bodies. I had always viewed my yoga practice as a very personal thing, but after the Equinox video I realised that I could use my dedication to inspire others to practice. It is immensely gratifying to meet people who started practicing yoga because of that video. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with ‘show yoga’, but then I remember how many people are introduced to yoga through it, and its ability to inspire. What’s the one question you always wish people would ask you, and what is your answer to it? Are you perfect? NO! Briohny and her husband Dice’s teaching, workshop and travel schedule can be found on their website at www. bryceyoga.com. Briohny and Dice also run 200hr teacher training courses, details of which can be found on their website. Photos by Robert Sturman, www.robertsturmanstudio.com
DOWNWARD DOG Adho Mukha Svanasana The Overview
This posture is a lot like those fold-up stools you can buy from camping shops. Those little stools don’t provide the comfiest of seats, but when you’ve been trudging around a muddy field for hours, or stomping up hills, laden down with a backpack full of squashed cheese sandwiches and luke warm coffee, it’s going to feel like the resting place from heaven. I remember my first downward-facing dog vividly: “Easing into your downward dog and resting here, catching your breath and retaining focus”, were the words of the blonde, impeccably tanned and toned teacher, who seemed to float rather than walk. I was not ‘easing’ anywhere, I was huffing and heaving and wondering if this was what it felt like to have a heart attack.
If you’re new to yoga, downward dog is not going to be your friend for a while, but stick with it and you’ll reap the rewards. The biggest initial problems are the upper arms and the wrists: the burning sensation in the backs of the arms as the triceps work overtime, and pain in the wrists from weight bearing. These issues can be alleviated in two ways: first and foremost practice (which is unfortunately the answer to everything), but for those lacking the patience, a little attention to detail and alignment, can help to hurry the process along. The Nitty Gritty
Ideally, the centre point of your weight in this posture should be slap bang in the middle, right at the top of your bum, which is pointing proudly to the sky above. If you can master this, you shift a huge
bulk of your weight out of your arms, wrists and hands, and into your legs and feet, alleviating pain in the wrists and giving your triceps a bit of a breather. So how do you achieve this?… Despite what Google’s super yogi pics might make you think, straight legs in this posture are not important. In nearly every posture in fact, think spine first, legs last. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, bend your knees! If you struggle with hamstring (backs of the legs) flexibility, bent knees will allow you to push down hard through your hands and shoulders, transferring some of that weight back into your legs, and straightening your spine out. Even if you are friends with your hamstrings, a nice juicy bend in the knees will allow you to lengthen your spine and start to roll the shoulders out. Rolling the shoulders out and dropping them down your back, will give you that extra bit of length in the spine. If you‘re anything like me, you’ve heard those words a thousand times before in classes and thought, “my shoulders are doing no rolling and dropping right now, in fact, they’re definitively stuck.” The thing is, now you’ve got that juicy bend in your knees and your weight is being pushed back, your shoulders have freed right up! So, shrug your shoulders right up to your ears as tight as you can, and then, let them go and feel them sliding down your back…this is ‘dropping your shoulders’ or ‘letting your shoulders melt down your back’, or whatever other yogic cliche you might have heard. Once you’ve got this, you’re ready to roll (your shoulders that is). The best way to think about this is trying to get the eyes of your elbows, (that’s the bit that someone would take blood from), to face forwards. Try imagining that you want your shoulder muscles to curl and wrap around your back towards your spine. A helpful little way to make sure you’re remembering to do this, is to draw silly little faces on the eyes of your elbows, and to keep checking that they’re smiling up at you, rather than facing
each other. If you’re feeling pain in your elbows here, you’re probably over-extending, so pop a tiny micro-bend into your elbows. The icing on the cake
Keep your hands planted nice and firmly, but with a little feeling of lift in your palms, and a little extra grip in your fingertips. The gaze here is traditionally to the belly button, but if you’re wondering how on earth you’d ever be able to see that far in this pose, or you’ve got to scrunch up your neck in order to get a look at that nifty little button, then take a steady gaze right through your legs. It’s more important to keep the neck relaxed and the head heavy than it is to examine your belly button fluff. Imagine your thighs wrapping in towards each other, not only will this help you to shoot those sitting bones a little further towards the heavens, but it’ll also give you a bit of an auto-engagement of mula bandha, which, let’s be honest, is not something to be sniffed at.
Got more downward dog quibbles, or a posture you really want us to analyse? Get in touch at email@example.com.
BALANCE, BREATH & BOARDS
Yoga & surfing: the match made in heaven?
eeping calm, relaxing your body, breathing fully and sharpening your focus. Building strength and muscle tone, increasing flexibility and balance. Sounds like a checklist for a well-practiced yogi, right? Maybe so, but it’s also a checklist for the surfers at the very top of their game. Just look at Rochelle Ballard, generally regarded as the first great female tuberider, and ranked amongst the top surfers in the world, who now runs ‘Surf into Yoga’; or Kelly Slater, 11 times world champion, who’s talked about yoga helping him to overcome injury and up his game in the water. Yoga is fast becoming the go-to sport for surfers and SUP boarders alike, so we sampled two novelty classes with a seaside vibe. Shake off your winter woes, don your sunnies and your speedos and read on... SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Yoga - Paddington Basin, London
As I arrive at Paddington basin I realise that I’m definitely not dressed for the occasion. I didn’t really think about the fact that paddleboard yoga was definitely going to take place on a paddleboard, and therefore involve some water, and the distinct possibility (having never been on a paddleboard before) of falling in. I wonder if I can pretend to be cold and
helpless if I do fall in so that I don’t get into trouble for getting my boyfriend’s nice jumper covered in not-so-nice Paddington basin water. We hop on to the boards and Jen, our teacher, gives us a chance get a feel for the board. We do a few stretches and the point of the board becomes instantly clear - I’m constantly having to work my core, to keep myself from toppling over. The disadvantage is that we’ve not had the chance to warm up with vinyasas before getting into these stretches (because vinyasas have to come at the end of class when you’re more used to the wobbling), and so I’m incredibly stiff and my limbs aren’t thanking me for yanking them into position without warning. My board keeps drifting away from the group and I’m unable to hear Jen’s softly-spoken instructions. She says not to worry - this is part of the fun - but it does mean I keep having to crane my head around and wobble about to see what position the rest of the class is in. To Jen’s credit, when I can hear her, she explains the transition into each posture in minute detail, which not only means that we’re all less likely to fall in, but also means that I’m being a lot more careful about what my limbs are doing in between postures - something I normally struggle
with in an ordinary class. The sky is bright blue, with a few wandering clouds, and towards the end of the class when my head is upside-down (in camel and wheel), I can see the clouds reflected in the water and the surrounding windows. It does feel truly serene. All in all Jen’s class was a bit of a giggle. If you’re looking for a deeply meditative and serious practice, Paddington basin is perhaps not the place to be, but in terms of a bit of yogic fun with some friends, SUP yoga hit the nail right on the head. Jen holds regular SUP yoga classes in Paddington Basin throughout the summer months, as well as retreats throughout the year. For more information or to book a class please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ocean Yoga - Ocean Flow Yoga Studio, Newquay
Stretch (aka Tom Harvey), leads us into the Newquay studio which he runs with his wife Jen. The place instantly seems peaceful, but I’m not expecting what hits us as we hike up to the small studio space on the second floor. The room is flooded with natural light, which streams in through giant glass panels overlooking the stunning Fistral Beach. I can truly say I have never entered a studio quite like it. Apart from the incredible view, the thing that differentiates this class from any other I’ve done before, is that we’ll be practicing on ‘Ocean Boards’, apparently the next big thing for surfers and SUP boarders looking to up their game through yoga. Jen and Stretch are the first studio in the UK to teach on these boards, which have recently become all the rage in the US.
elevated balance pods, which allow it to mimic the instability of water and wave movements. Stretch explains how these pods can expose weaknesses or alignment issues in your practice and force your mind and body to work in unison in order to maintain stability. Stretch treats us to a ‘burn your abs off ’ core-strengthening session and once we’re warmed up, we hop off our boards and slide the balance pods underneath. Unlike in SUP yoga, I can tilt the board from side to side without toppling off, which means I am able to concentrate on actually practicing. The aim here is to keep the board ‘quiet’, or stable, and when you do go off kilter, to notice what it is about your alignment that isn’t quite right. After a strong vinyasa flow practice, Stretch encourages us to have a bit of fun on the boards, and try out dipping down from crow (bakasana) into tripod headstand and back up again. This is a move I’d shied away from in SUP yoga the week before, but with Stretch’s encouragement and superb alignment instructions I pop up and really feel my core fighting to keep me upright. Throughout the class Stretch has reminded us to keep noticing the twitch of those little muscles you wouldn’t notice on steady ground, and it’s this focus that means I really do see the benefit of these boards. Allowing my limbs to drop off the edges of the board in corpse pose (svasana), and hearing both the gentle murmur of the sea, and Stretch’s instructions to imagine ourselves floating on water I find myself wondering how feasible it would be to travel down from London just to take this class again.
Jen and Stretch currently offer private Ocean Board sessions for up to three people. Please contact email@example.com for availability or visit www.oceanflowyoga.co.uk for more information about classes workshops and retreats.
The Ocean Board looks like a small surf board on
FROM SENTENCING TO SVASANA HOW YOGA HAS TRANSFORMED UK PRISONS
o, where’ve you come from?”, Nick asks me. “Well, I live in Peckham, so that’s where I’ve come from today, if that’s what you mean”, I reply. “Ahhh Peckhammmm”, Nick flashes me a toothy grin. “That used to be my old stomping ground you know. Twenty years ago people wouldn’t go near Peckham. That’s where all the drugs got sold”. I’d been worried about how to approach the interview with Nick. I knew he was fairly open about his past, but I’d wondered how I would bring up the sensitive issues of drug smuggling, a hefty prison sentence and a subsequent yoga practice. I needn’t have worried, this is what Nick wants to tell me about. “I was so far away from reality it was terrifying”, Nick says of his time as ‘the logistics man’ of a group smuggling huge quantities of cocaine through South America, and out into Europe. How did he come to yoga then? Six years in an Argentinian prison, to put it simply. Nick explains that his friend was hoarding a yoga book intended for his girlfriend, that he borrowed and, out of boredom, read from cover to cover. “Maybe this stuff ain’t half bad”, Nick recalls thinking. He was later put into isolation and this is where his journey began. Rather than a formal interview, Nick had decided that we would practice together and then chat. “This man must be serious about yoga”, I thought. I wasn’t wrong. Nick’s practice was impeccable. I was supposed to be in my own yogic zone, I know, but I couldn’t help glancing over at him occasionally: strong, well-balanced, flexible, and perfectly aligned. This man had clearly practiced a lot. “At first I was just jumping around on a mat like a nutter, not really knowing what I was doing. ▶
What that did though, was give me some space. I had space to be calmer outside of my practice, and then, before I knew it, I could even sit. Can you imagine!? I could sit. I never could have sat before.” Nick’s three-times-a-day asana practice eventually led to “thousands of hours” of sitting. He recalls how in prison this was less a meditation practice, and more an opportunity to sit and observe himself. An opportunity to realise “how f***ed up everything was”, and realise that things had to change. And as he reminds me, that is the essence of yoga. “Look at Patanjali’s yoga sutras and see what he’s saying. All he says about any posture is that it should be ‘steady and comfortable’. He’s not talking about popping up into eka pada koundinyanasana or whatever, he’s talking about sitting.” I stupidly ask Nick if he’s ever done a Vipassana (silent meditation) retreat. “Yeah…four years of it. Four years in isolation in an Argentinian prison. You don’t get a much better Vipassana than that.” A stretch in prison can have far-reaching physical and psychological implications, one of the results of which is staggeringly high reoffending rates for British prisoners. According to the Prison Reform Trust, 47% of adults are reconvicted within one year of release. For those serving sentences of less than 12 months this increases to 58%, whilst nearly three-quarters of under-18 year olds are reconvicted within a year of release. Statistics like this have triggered an increased recognition of the need for initiatives which address the high rates of psychological problems experienced by prisoners, yet such initiatives often fail to come to fruition as a result of high cost, and lack of support from both governments and the general public. The Prison Phoenix Trust (PPT) represents one organisation attempting to fill the gap in the well-be-
ing of inmates. Founded in 1988 and now running over 120 yoga classes a week in more than 80 institutions across the country, the Prison Phoenix Trust’s work involves encouraging prisoners to practise yoga and meditation in their cells and in classes. The organisation prepares qualified yoga instructors to teach in the prison environment, and helps to establish regular classes for inmates and staff, as well as sending prisoners free books and CDs on yoga and meditation. “Prisoners tell us, and have been telling us for the past 26 years, that meditation helps them tremendously, and that they’re hungry for some way to find stillness, clarity and a place for reflection. The asanas are wonderful for this, they’re a great way for prisoners to find meditation. Once the body is relaxed, and has been worked and stretched, it’s possible to reach a place where you can sit still and reflect”, says the PPT’s director, Sam Settle. “Many of our classes have waiting lists, and when the prison staff really get behind the project, the prisoners love it. They keep coming back, and word spreads about the classes.” The PPT’s work is by no means easy though, and yoga classes in prisons are far from standard. “Everything that happens in a prison depends on the goodwill and understanding of the prison officers and staff, so part of our job is working very hard to build relationships with them, so that they not only understand what yoga is about, but also appreciate how good it is for one’s mental health and well-being. If that can happen, then they’re more likely to do all the hundreds of little things that need to be done, in order for a yoga class to take place in a prison.” Many prisons restrict their yoga courses to certain categories of prisoners, often because of a chronic shortage of funds (in Brixton prison for example,
yoga is restricted to inmates receiving help with drug rehabilitation). Money for yoga classes comes directly out of the a prison’s budget and the PPT receive no government funding, but according to Sam, politicians and prison officers alike are missing a trick. “There’s no better tool to help prisoners achieve a sense of well-being and respect, and officers often comment, not just on an individual’s changed behaviour after yoga classes, but on the changed behaviour of a whole section or wing of a prison; things are calmer and run a bit more smoothly. Even if you just look at it in a crude financial way, schemes like this make a lot of sense.” According to Nick, the problem isn’t in funding, as
these projects make financial sense, rather the problem lies in politicians’ eagerness to comply with public opinion. “Can you imagine what the Daily Mirror readers would say if yoga was standard in prison? They’d say, ‘Oh look, we’re even giving our criminals free yoga classes now’. People don’t think about the fact that if we actually offered prisoners a way to reform, it might stop purses getting stolen, or houses getting broken into, or even someone getting murdered.” Although studies on the benefits of meditation in settings such as prisons, have increased in number in recent years and have shown promising results, yoga itself has lacked the same attention. In 2012 however, Oxford University academics took to ▶
the prisons of Britain to conduct a study on the effects of participation in a yoga course. Prisoners of mixed ages and gender, from seven British prisons, were allocated randomly to either a control group (who took part in no yoga and carried on with their normal exercise schedules), or a yoga group. Those in the yoga group took part in a ten-week course, consisting of one, two-hour class each week. Both groups undertook tests judging their mood, stress levels and psychological distress before and after the experiment. Additionally, both groups took part in a cognitive-behavioural task at the end of the period. At the end of the ten-week period, the experiment’s yoga group reported considerably reduced stress and psychological distress compared to the control group. This much might seem obvious to the regular yogi, however the more surprising outcome of the experiment emerged from the cognitive-behavioural test, given to all participants at the end of the trial. Each participant was required to undergo what is known as a ‘Go/No-Go test’, which monitors decision-making processes, in particular those related to impulsivity. There is evidence to suggest that poor performance in a task like this is related to difficulties in controlling violent behaviour. The participants of the yoga group achieved significantly and consistently higher results in this test of impulse control, than the members of the control group, suggesting that prisoners with a regular yoga practice may be less likely to resort to impulsive behaviours often associated with violence and addiction. “We know for certain that yoga helps prisons to run more efficiently and smoothly. There are fewer violent incidents, a lot less paperwork has to be done, and there’s much better communication, all as a result of people doing yoga”, agrees Sam. “Prison staff are also under huge amounts of strain, so we offer classes for them too, we’re really trying to ▶
support everybody who is working and living within a prison.”
at which point they’re let back out into the world, unchanged and ready to reoffend.
Findings like this could have huge implications for policy-making. To date, policy surrounding mental health interventions in prisons, has largely focused on psychological and psychosocial treatments. Such interventions are costly though, and psychosocial treatments in prisons are commonly found to be inaccessible, stigmatising and undesirable: yoga could offer a more socially acceptable and cost-effective alternative. Nick is not allowed to teach in prisons, but can’t tell me enough how much he’s convinced that yoga is a potential solution to a huge problem. According to Nick, British prisons are all too concerned with “locking people up and throwing away the key”, until the day of their release comes,
“Yoga saved me for sure”, Nick tells me. “And it’s only when I got out of prison that I fully appreciated that. When I was inside practice was hard; part of me wanted to be downstairs with my mates who were all off their heads on drugs, but I kept feeling like my mat was calling me, I knew that being on it felt good. It was a constant tug-of-war. Only when I got out did I realise that I’d won a tug-of-war within myself, only then did I really appreciate it. Only then did I realise that I was reformed.”
Through their work, Sam and his colleagues at the PPT have seen stories like Nick’s unfold in a thousand different guises. “The thing that we see
again and again when we teach yoga in prisons, is prisoners who say that for the first time, maybe in their lives, but at least since they’ve been in prison, they’ve found something they can really like in themselves, and that in itself, is enough motivation for us to keep working.” Countless testimonies from prisoners who have received the help of Sam’s organisation echo his sentiments. “There is a deeper me who cares about other people, rather than just being reactive. This makes me feel great about myself, something I’ve not had reason to feel for years…Things are becoming easier for the first time in decades”, says an inmate from HMP Haverigg.
If you’re interested in teaching in prisons or want to read more about the Prison Phoenix Trust’s work visit www.theppt.org.uk .
“What I’ve been trying to do is change myself, when all I really needed to do was accept myself. That’s what I call a revelation. Now I’m on a journey. I don’t know where it will take me but I’m looking forward to it…”
The PPT run various courses aimed at preparing qualified yoga teachers for the prison environment, including one-day training events across the country, and longer residential courses. To donate to the PPT, or if you have fundraising ideas visit www.theppt.org.uk/support_ us.php
photo LUCA CRIVELLI
YOGA ON SNOW
nce upon a time I lived abroad, and an old boyfriend, who was a super snowboarder, convinced me that in a mere couple of days, I too could be swishing down the slopes. In my head I’d be wearing a custom-designed Roxy outfit and popping in a couple of back flips on my way down to après-ski. In reality, I rocked up to the nursery slope wearing trousers three sizes too big for me, hobbling along in ski boots which made my feet feel as though they belonged to somebody else, and dragging a snowboard, which I had not envisaged as being as tall or indeed as heavy as myself, a foot behind me. Needless to say, the trip was a disaster and I vowed never to step foot on a piste again. My super-boarder boyfriend disappeared for three hours, whilst I
attempted to throw myself down ice mounds, and tried even harder to get back up them without using the terrifying lift contraption. There were two saving graces on that trip. The first was a ten-year-old boy, left behind by his nimble skiing friends and stuck with a fate similar to my own. As the two class rejects, we bonded over our uselessness and then bounded around in the snow for a good hour, mostly on our bums. The second was that I had practiced yoga on-and-off long enough to know that a few deep nasal breaths might help to dispel some of my anger about being left alone with only a board, too heavy for me to carry, for company. This is as far as my foray into ‘yoga on snow’ has
ever gone, but for the holidaymakers of St. Moritz, ‘yoga on snow’ now means a whole lot more than anger management halfway up a piste. In four idyllic spots just off-piste, Sabrina, who has been a ski instructor in the luxury resort for 28 years, has started to incorporate not just the philosophy, but also the moves of yoga, into her teaching. The stations on ‘Paradiso Piste’, are designed to “encourage a new approach to the piste and to change the rhythm and perspective of skiing.” The ‘Yoga on Snow’ leaflet is available free from nearby ski lifts, and explains eight exercises to be performed at four sites, carefully signposted and chosen to match up with various yogic themes. The themes of arrival, breath, connection, strength, shapes, balance, change and letting go, are designed to help participants develop conscious physical awareness and therefore improve their technique on the slopes. In private or group classes with Sabrina, or her co-teacher Priska, skiers perform sun salutes and poses such as triangle (trikonasana) and tree pose (vrksasana), on the mountain. The technique and body-awareness involved in these postures is explained and then applied to improve skiing technique. Sabrina gives advice such as the importance of breath during skiing: a slow nasal exhale can improve wide ski turns, while yogic breath of fire (sharp, rhythmic breaths), can aid sharper turns. ‘Yoga on Snow’ claims to add “a new dimension to the way you move through the mountains”, with the aim of allowing you to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Engadine valley. “Even if you feel cynical about the concept, there is no doubt that the yoga spots take you to viewpoints you would otherwise blindly ski past,” says travel writer Emily Mawson. Yoga on the slopes gives skiers the opportunity to unite with the beautiful natural surroundings and let go of their fears, in order to obtain better
technique and a more satisfying day out in the snow. Remembering my anger and frustration as a lay in a trench of powdery flakes on that fateful trip, I read the blurb for the final posture of ‘Yoga on Snow’s’ sequence: Svasana
Theme: letting go Lie down on the snow and close your eyes. Let your thoughts roam freely. Feel the snow underneath you and surrender your entire body to the mountain. It is supporting you. Remain clear and awake. I close my eye and retrospectively take a few moments to remember and appreciate my surroundings: the sky is crystal clear and the sun is radiating a gentle warmth over my damp, snow-flecked face. I can hear the gentle woosh of skiers, more seasoned than myself, gliding effortlessly down the mountain, and now I smile at the freedom they must feel. I can feel a trip to St. Moritz coming on.
For more information or to book a ‘Yoga on Snow’ holiday contact Suvretta Snowsports School at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.suvretta-sports.ch/en
Onzie A/W 2014
here’s absolutely no doubt that Onzie’s yoga wear is some of the most original, well-thought-out gear available in the UK right now. One glance at the autumn collection on their US site and I’m already in love with about $500 worth of Spandex. I’m trying out the ‘Two-Tone Leggings’ and a matching ‘Criss-Cross Bra Top’, and at £48.95 and £34.95 respectively, these pieces match up in price to the average Sweaty Betty purchase and come in a sizable slice cheaper than most of the Lululemon gear on the market. For that price however, you get something truly beautiful. These leggings, like most of the others in the new collection, are more a piece of artwork than something you’d want to mop up your downward dog sweat with. The colours are eye-poppingly bright and the material is silky smooth. Admittedly, eye-popping colours might not be for everyone (I must remember that I am renowned for dressing like a bowl of fruit), but there’s also plenty to please those who are a little more melancholy in their dress, whilst still enjoying a splash of unique. The ‘Tuxedo Legging’ and ‘Track Legging’ for example both offer muted colours with a little design flair. Both the leggings and the bra are made from Onzie’s signature Free Flow Spandex (80% Nylon and 20% Spandex) which, as Onzie says, really does become “a second skin”. The material slides effortlessly over my mat during practice, and I have to admit that I’m struggling not to be distracted by just how silky the leggings make my legs feel. My only gripe is that this material is perhaps a little too good on ▶
my post-practice laziness, I stick them in the washer. They come out as good as new and dry in record time, ready for practice the next day. Onzie also say that their gear can be worn swimming and surfing, in chlorine or salt water, so I decide give my gear a go on the great British seaside - sure enough, the waves do it no harm whatsoever. Post-practice I stick on the Onzie autumn collection cardigan (mine’s in black but it also come in navy and a floral print called ‘Persia’). This piece is made from Free Flow Jersey and is cosy yet still a little stretchy, it’s perfect for teaching in, or practicing on a chilly morning. I’ve got to say, I’m a little sad that my gear is ‘yoga wear’, so much so that, much to my friends’ amusement, I wear my radical leggings out shopping and watch with pride as heads turn. Not very yogic I know but I’ll make up for it when I slide effortlessly (and without having to get changed) into class later!
occasion: if I’m wearing a long-sleeved top, my smooth slidy leggings make my crow a little too slippery for comfort. Having said that, a few arm balances are a small sacrifice for the overall feel of the Free Flow Spandex, and in the same material, Onzie’s ‘Criss-cross bra’ is equally delightful. It’s practical enough to mean that you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your modesty in your forward folds, yet the intricately detailed crossover straps on the back make for a beautiful and original sports top. We all know what a nightmare getting your sweaty gear ready for your next class can be: Onzie recommends that their garments are hand washed, or placed in the gentle cycle of a washing machine. In
To get your hands on Onzie’s autumn collection either visit www.onzie.com, www.yogamatters.com or www.urbanyoga.co.uk.
photo LAURA ASHMAN
rudging up the chilly concrete stairs of Peckham’s famous Bussey Building is somewhat reminiscent of finding your way around a multi-storey car park, and it’s hard to know what to expect from the studio hiding out on the second floor of this tatty but up-and-coming warehouse space. Opened in February this year, the South East’s newest studio couldn’t be further away from its dingy stairway. The space seamlessly throws together rustic wooden floorboards with crazy geometric artwork, cosy floor-level lighting with industrial-looking chipboard furniture, and the gentle wafting of insence with steel-caged lightbulbs. Yogarise is effortlessly cool - industrial chic at its best - but this is by no means where its innovative
streak ends. The studio offers a salad bar of yogic tidbits, catering for everyone you can think of. Sporting a range of teachers and styles, a week’s worth of classes at Yogarise Peckham packs in a huge range of contemporary yoga styles. Pregnancy classes and ‘Mum & Baby Yoga’ cater for those practicing for two, four-week-long beginners courses run regularly and give newbies a real chance to get to grips with the basics, and five early-morning ‘Rise & Flow’ classes are there to satisfy even the earliest of early birds. There’s even some dance thrown into the mix, with a Saturday morning ‘Yoga Fusion’ class, combining elements of yoga, pilates and ballet. Prices are competitive by London standards - £12 for a peak-time 90 minute class sweeps in at a good £4 cheaper than the average London yoga-fix - ▶
and with even cheaper off-peak classes, and a £6 suggested donation for the studio’s ‘community classes’, Yogarise differs from other city studios in its ‘yoga is for everyone’ spirit. The lack of proper showering facilities is Yogarise’s most obvious downfall. There is one small shower which works a treat on request, but this studio is not really the place to grab your morning shower, blow-dry your bob, and apply your eyeliner before trotting into the office in your Louboutin heels. This however, might just constitute one of Yogarise’s greatest selling points. Yoga here is not exclusive and it’s not elite. You don’t need to float bright-eyed into a 7am class wearing Sweaty Betty’s latest gear and then skip your svasana so that you have enough time to get your lipstick right. In fact, if you turn up bleary-eyed and hungover with your t-shirt inside out and leave looking much the same then all the better for it, because at least you’re still practicing. Yogarise will treat you to a friendly smile, a cup of something hot and herbal and a delicious class. On top of that you’ll leave with a few more pounds in your pocket than if you’d been able to get that blowdry, and certainly with a springier spring in your step. We popped into Yogarise and tried out: Rocket Yoga™ with Marcus Veda, Monday, 7.30pm Rocking up to Marcus’ class is a little terrifying. The lights are dim, the music is loud and everyone looks like they know what they’re doing. An old hat with the decks, Marcus gets the class in the right mood with some high volume, high energy beats whilst he meets and greets his regulars and newbies alike. There is no faffing around in this class, and within the first five minutes beads of sweat are rolling down every forehead in the room, Marcus’ included. I’ve lost count of how many sun salutes we’ve done, which I tell myself if a good thing, and in actual fact it probably is because it means I’ve also forgotten about that meeting at work, the washing that needs putting on, and the fact that I need to
phone my mother. Although my limbs are shouting for me to stop, Marcus’ voice is shouting louder and it’s telling me to breath, so I keep breathing, it’s all I can do. After what seems like our millionth sun salute, we pop straight up into crow. There’s not much explanation for those who thought that crow was nothing more than a pesky black bird, but there are enough advanced practitioners in the room to spy on for those who have less of an idea of what’s going on. This holds true for the rest of the standing series, but despite this, Marcus cannot be accused of lazy teaching. He hot foots it around the room, tugging on practitioners lazy limbs and periodically popping into pretzels poses as though he were merely tying his shoelaces. The class is fast-moving, just a little bit silly, and served with a healthy dose of “what the hell, just give it a go”. Even the beginners in the class, who might otherwise be inclined to feel like they’ve been slapped in the face with a yogic wet-fish, seem to be enjoying themselves. Marcus encourages them to give things like arm balances and headstands a try, reminding everyone in the class to focus on the practice rather than the outcome. At the end of Marcus’ class we get down to the important stuff. At its core the asanas in yoga are simply a path to meditation - disciplining of the body in order to quieten the mind - and Marcus’ Rocket classes are the ultimate display of these two facets of yoga. After such an intense and sweaty session of body discipline, svasana - the real aim of every yoga practice - was bliss. Rocket Yoga was developed by Larry Schultz of It’s Yoga and is now taught worldwide. For more information and teacher training schedules visit www.itsyoga.com.
ASHLEY GALVIN (@ashleygalvinyoga) Los Angeles, June 2014 Geisha graffiti in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
RACHEL BRATHEN (@yoga_girl) Marrakech, July 2014 Organised, colourful, magical chaos at PotOfRugs, Morocco
LAURA KASPERZAK (@laurasykora) New Jersey, September 2014
DYLAN WERNER (@dylanwerneryoga) September 2014 Dylan displays an effortless arm balance in revolved airbaby pose
LIZ ARCH (@lizarch) Malibu, June 2014 Alden Wallace photographs Liz at Point Dume on the Californian coast
STEPH BIRCH (@stephynow) Sacramento, July 2014 Steph drinks her tea with an illustration by The Astronaut Chameleon (@astromeleon)
KERRI VERNA (@beachyogagirl) June 2014 Kerri performs an underwater samasthiti
LAURA KASPERZAK (@laurasykora) New Jersey, August 2014 Like mother like daughter, Laura & her “mini” in downward facing dog
DYLAN WERNER | ASHLEY GALVIN (@ dylanwerneryoga | @ ashleygalvinyoga) September 2014 Acroyoga with yoga couple Dylan & Ashley
KINO MACGREGOR (@kinoyoga) Miami, June 2014 Kino wears a tie dye dress by Michelle Jonas & platform sandals by Ipanema
Published on Oct 31, 2014
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