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YOGA TEACHER, PHOTO
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TAHL RINSKY www.tahlrinsky.com
THANK YOU BEX FETHERSTONE EDITOR
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CONTRIBUTORS AMANDA BISK ARI ISO-RAUTIO CARMEN O'NEILL CATHARINA KUHL DANIEL ROY ELINA ISO-RAUTIO FENELLA LINDSELL IRENE PAPPAS JELENA ALEKSIC JILL D'ADHEMAR JOHN MILLER KAREN YEOMANS
photo ROBERT STURMAN
KINO MACGREGOR LIZ HAROLD MARTINE LASCELLES MILENA ALEKSIC MIRANDA MENZIES PAOLO SANCHEZ ROBERT STURMAN SARAH JOHNSTON SIMON MOSS SOPHIA HERBST STEPH BIRCH SUE FOX TAHL RINSKY TAO PORCHON-LYNCH
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EDITOR'S LETTER New Year, New Yoga
’m writing from the fireside as we put together the last pieces of our ‘New Year, New Yoga’ issue, and with my thick knitted socks on and the view of the dismal weather outside, it’s easy to imagine the phrase turning into ‘New Year, No Yoga’. The winter holidays feel like a time for eating stodgy foods and staying in bed too late, a time for curling up under a blanket rather than curling up into your balasana. In reality though, it’s not always so idyllic. There’s the stress of meeting work deadlines, managing family relations and making the perfect meal, and how to deal with it all. What better way could there be to manage this hectic time of transitions than with your own yoga practice? Who cares if you’ve never been able to touch your toes, or if wrapping presents is enough to ruin your zen, in fact all the better I say, yoga is for you. I don’t care how old you are, or how stressful your job is, or how many times you’ve tried it before, make 2015 your New Year with your new yoga practice. Start afresh and, as the inspirational Tao Porchon-Lynch (see page 34) said to me “don’t wait another second, don’t wait for tomorrow, go and do it now, because one second after midnight it’s already today.”
Bex Fetherstone Editor
photo TAHL RINSKY
STUDIO STOCKISTS Thank you to all the studios who’ve supported us! To join this list contact firstname.lastname@example.org LONDON: Triyoga Soho Jivamukti Yoga Kensal Rise The Life Centre Notting Hill & Islington Frame Shoreditch Hot Bikram Yoga Balham, Fulham & London Bridge 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 Wandsworth Yogarise Peckham Victor’s Lab Peckham Body Align Elephant & Castle Down To Earth Tufnell Park The House of Yoga Putney BIRMINGHAM Yoga Sweat Town Centre Barefoot Yoga Harborne LIVERPOOL Planet Yoga Absolute Yoga Bikram Yoga ABERDEEN Love Yoga
photo TAHL RINSKY
what I wanted. When you ask quality questions you get quality answers, and the right answer came to me loud and clear - I am a photographer - simple as that. It hit me hard that I wasn’t doing what I knew I was meant to do and that was enough to help me take the leap of faith into professional photography. What makes you want to take photographs of yogis? I
orn in New York City and brought up in Israel, super-mum Tahl Rinsky’s life has been centred around her yoga practice since the age of 18. After exploring yoga across the globe, Tahl completed a teacher-training course in 2012 and now spends her time touring with her musician husband, being a mum and teaching yoga in Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, Australia. Check out Tahl’s teaching schedule and photographs at www. tahlrinsky.com and www.tahlrinskyphotos.com
How did you come to yoga? My mum introduced me to yoga when I was 18 and together we’d go to the one yoga teacher in my hometown. I didn’t become fully hooked until I stuffed a cheat sheet of the primary series into a backpack that I took around Spain. After that I jumped into a 3-week course and that’s when I started to practise religiously. How did you come to photography? From the age of 14
I was processing my own films in a darkroom. I am still completely in awe of photography’s ability to capture a snippet of time and to witness life so closely - a facial expression or the way a blade of grass moves in the wind – those nuances of life are so powerful yet often completely invisible to the naked eye. One morning a few years ago I woke up and asked myself some real questions about who I was and
love the beauty of the human form and I love to see the expression of feelings through the physical body. The same posture can be beautiful and princess-like or weird, dark and twisted depending on where your energy is at in that moment. I couldn’t ask for better clients than ones who are looking to be better versions of themselves through yoga and these people help to mould the way I approach each shoot. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching people grow in confidence in their practice as they truly open up to the lens.
What parts of yoga are you trying to shed a new light on with your photos? Yoga means union. It’s about be-
ing kind, compassionate and forgiving and not just doing handstands or arm balances. I try to capture that essence in every photograph. I hope that my photos show people that they can take yoga off the mat, out of the lycra and into their everyday lives.
Are your yoga practice and your photography separate or do you see them as similar to each other? I do a lot
of yoga self-portraits. I started this for Instagram but it’s grown into a way for me to express myself using my body as a subject. Being the subject of a photograph allows me to tap into different parts of myself, to be playful and to have fun. The essence of this, the exploration of the self, is the same as yoga. What's your opinion on the conflict between the idea that photos of yogis in beautiful and complex asanas can inspire people to practise, yet can also make yoga seem totally unattainable? What people take from
photos is their own business. Taking responsibility for our own thoughts and reactions is much more
difficult than any fancy pose and is something that yoga has taught me. Coming from that space, it really doesn’t matter if someone is doing a complex asana and wants to share that with the world, just like it doesn’t matter if someone is doing simple poses or poses with physical imperfections. Part of my own ‘off the mat’ yoga practice is taking responsibility for my own reactions and knowing that it’s my choice whether I form a judgement about something being unattainable, too simple or imperfect. What about the question of the constant portrayal of beautiful women of a very specific body type in yoga photography? I think there is a portrayal of beautiful
women with perfect bodies in every form of media. The problem with this is not the photographs but rather with people’s inability to see beauty every-
where. The idea that this is beautiful and this is not seems an unhealthy way to look at the world, I think this is something that yoga has taught me. What do you want viewers to take your work? An invitation to look
What's the one question you always wish someone would ask you and what's your answer to it? I don’t
know if I’ve ever thought that way. The question I always hated is now the question I love. For years my tummy would turn when people asked me “what do you do?”, because I thought I needed to have a title other than ‘mother’. Now I love the question because I can see I am so many things, and always have been. I see that as my strength.
photo TAHL RINSKY
NEW YEAR PLAYLIST
Dark Mornings & Cold Nights
scape dark mornings and cold nights with 60 minutes of super chilled sustenance for your speakers and your soul. Turn up the volume and think late summer nights and lazy mornings.
Worthy Jacob Banks
Stonger Than Ever Raleigh Ritchie
3 x Sun Salute A
Seven Nation Army Alice Russell, Nostalgia 77
3 x Sun Salute B
Fool's Gold Izzy Bizu Worry Jack Garratt
Giving It All Bondax Feel You (Radio Edit) Taptenwechsel Another Girl Jaques Greene Days With You Snakehips/Sinead Harnett
No Diggity Chet Faker Benny Alex Winston Eple 2003 RĂ–yksopp Sunset Evil Needle
Drop The Game Flume, Chet Faker Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence Ryuichi Sakamoto
TURKEY TRANSCENDENCE WORDS THE ACCIDENTAL YOGI
“The other stuff is just the trimmings, you’re the turkey”.
was so excited. A yoga show. “What do you mean what’s that!?”, I tutted at my sister on the phone, “It’s a show...of yoga.” What could be more glorious, more dazzling, more spectacular, and most importantly, more inspiring? Inspiration, is what I was looking for. My practice had been slowly dwindling and by the time the big event came about I hadn’t practised in a full two weeks, literally not even a touch of the toes. This was going the be the answer to all of my problems, I was going to be bedazzled back into my practice. I bustled through the doors, handed over my precious £12 - a snip really for a slice of enlightenment - and trekked off into a sea of harem pants and herbal teas. It would of course be necessary, I thought to myself, to make sure to visit every single stand, so as not to miss out on something potentially crucial to my health and wellbeing. I began to strategically snake my way through row upon row of miniature yoga emporiums. As I trundled along I enthusiastically collected endless leaflets and poked my head into stalls stacked to the brim with the latest answers to fatigue, water retention, a short temper and every other gripe under the sun. All were neatly packaged, into handbag-sized bottles, snazzy looking pouches and fiddly little boxes, and many were being ladled out for free by ladies wearing linen trousers and serene smiles. “Come and sample the new you”, they seemed to say, “A glimpse of your better self." I trudged and trekked and stuck it out for a whole twenty minutes before resigning myself to the fact that I was in hell and just wanted to get out. Forfeiting my new yogic self, I left feeling confused and disappointed that the yoga world could have become so stressful without me noticing. I buried my yoga sorrows and one evening found myself standing in typical British drizzle marvelling at a firework display. I glanced at the human beings packed around me, blowing their warm, damp, breath into misty clouds. All of them were watching the spectacular display through smeared
iPhone screens, desperately jostling to win the superior shot. They were missing out on the action in order to document and share how great it would have been if they’d actually been watching. We live in a world where we’re so interested in products, the props we surround ourselves with on the stages of our lives, in the way things will look afterwards, how our photos will turn out, that we forget to do what we’re actually supposed to be doing. We said goodbye to carpe diem a long time ago, and welcomed in its place the angst of the ‘after-moment’, the panic of pre-planning. In short, we’ve let the trimmings take over from the turkey. As I mulled this over some days later sitting on my perpetually rolled-out (yet perpetually under-used) yoga mat, I started to stretch a little. Feeling the grumbles of muscles once permanently limber and ready for action but now neglected and sluggish, I momentarily berated myself for my letting what I had achieved slide, and felt more than a twinge of frustration that I was struggling with what would, a few months ago, have been a mild set of pre-practice stretches. As the track changed, I got hold of my negativity, took a deep breath and set an intention to start from scratch, and as the beat kicked in again I began to methodically push, pull, tense, release and work my tired limbs. Before I knew it I was practising, and jiggling along to the music as I went; my breath riding the rhythms of the music and my body riding the rhythms of my breath. I had not planned my practice, and apart from a tatty old mat, I’d not needed a single product, prop, or professional teacher. Not even an ointment or an oil. Ok, so it’s nice to have the gear sometimes, and I’m certainly not rushing off to cut ties with all my favourite teachers - these things can help you on your way, but it’s important to remember that it’s you and only you that can get you on your way in the first place. The other stuff is just the trimmings, you’re the turkey, so get on your mat, forget all the other stuff and shake your tail feather!
photo KAREN YEOMANS
KINO MACGREGOR Overcoming obstacles
ork had got busy, I was getting home late, and tiredness (plus the thought of my flatmate’s spaghetti bolognese) meant that I was regularly skipping my 7.30pm vinyasa flow classes. “That’s it,” I thought, “the end of my yoga practice”. A couple of months into this routine and I’d just about convinced myself that I really couldn’t be a yogi anymore. The less I went to classes the further my flexibility slipped away from me, the faster the power and strength seemed to drain from my muscles, the less appealing classes actually seemed. I cancelled my monthly studio membership which, to be honest, I couldn’t afford in the first place, and felt sorry for myself on the odd occasion I attempted a feeble hamstring stretch. A while later, fiddling around on the internet, when in reality I could have been practising, I looked at some of the famous Instagram yogi’s photographs, and noted how often they looked like they’d been taken at home. Kino MacGregor (@kinoyoga) popped up, practising in her home, in the garden,
on the beach. These photos were not taken in class. I read something she’d written: “It is the student’s effort that makes the journey a success. You are the one who is ultimately responsible for your progress.” There are so many ways to avoid your yoga practice, even to persuade yourself not to start yoga in the first place, and not only have I heard them all before, I’ve thought them all myself. And it turns out, Kino MacGregor, now a world famous yogini with over half a million followers on Instagram, has thought them all too. She talks to us about overcoming obstacles and getting down to practice... Do you remember what getting into yoga was like? Could you touch your toes? I remember my first ashtanga yoga class vividly, I was really just hanging on for dear life. I couldn’t balance, I couldn’t do a headstand and I couldn’t do chaturanga dandasana (yogi push up). Yoga wasn’t something I was naturally good at and it definitely wasn’t something that came to me easily. What I learned from that though, was that yoga is about more than just making shapes, or physical forms. I really got the idea that yoga represents a search for inner peace. Slowly, I began to realise that the person who really needs yoga is the person who’s furthest away from the state of peace, not the person who’s already peaceful. The person who’s feeling chaotic, maybe they’re stiff and not so flexible - that’s the person who has the most to gain from doing the practice. When people say “oh I don’t want to do yoga because I can’t touch my toes”, I say to them “well out of an entire class of yogis, you’re the person who’s going to benefit the most.” If you have to struggle right from the beginning and overcome obstacles, then you’re doing yoga What kept you coming back to your mat? The thing that drew me back was the feeling after the class. Going to class felt like climbing Mount Everest,
but I’d reach the end and realise that I’d survived and that I definitely wanted to go on that adventure again. I went to Mysore when I’d been practising ashtanga yoga for less than a year. After travelling to India that first time I’ve never really wavered from practising six days a week. I started practising on my own, just in my living room first thing in the morning, even if I was tired or stressed, I would just roll out my mat and get on with it. After that trip I’d never wake up thinking “ should I practise, should I not?”, it just got me thinking “this is what I do.” Speaking of practising on your own - classes are so expensive nowadays but lots of us find it hard to motivate ourselves to practise at home - do you have any tips? I think the first thing is to set up a routine so that you don’t question your practice. If you’re always saying “Should I practise? Should I do it first or should I do it later”, it makes it very hard to maintain any sort of discipline. Set up a routine and follow it. Make your yoga practice as routine as brushing your teeth. If you can do this then your practice will become something you just do, rather than something that requires a lot of huffing and puffing and questioning. Put on your yoga clothes, put your mat out in the same place every day, get on your mat, practise. Slowly, just by getting onto your mat at the same time each day, you’re going to feel pulled into continuing the practice, and before you know it, this will be your new routine, you’ll have made your yoga practice into just another thing you do before brushing your teeth. As a teacher yourself, do you still go to classes and have your own teachers? I think that it’s so important for teachers to be students too. If you’re constantly in the seat of 'the one who knows’, it can be very challenging. It’s extremely healing to be in the spot of a student, we remember what it’s like to learn and it keeps us humble because we have a chance to experience our own fallibility and imperfections. The best teacher is the one who has the
photo KAREN YEOMANS
most compassion for the student. For that reason, the number one qualification for a good teacher is to remain a student. What’s a teacher’s role in guiding someone through their yoga journey? From the vantage point of the teacher, you can see the student differently to the way that they see themselves. Generally, I can look at a student and see the way that they’re working, the way that they’re holding their body and from this I get an intuitive sense that they’re ready for a certain posture. Often when I suggest that they’re ready for the posture however, they’re fearful to try it. In that moment I’m asking them to go beyond their limitations and to do something that they don’t feel comfortable with. Hopefully though, with my guidance and their trust, the student finds their way into the pose. In this way a teacher can help a student to experience a different part of themselves, the student passes an obstacle that they thought was impossible. Achieving a new posture with the help of a teacher can insert just enough doubt into someone’s notion of themselves to allow their mind to expand. It’s pretty daunting for a beginner to see all of the crazy yoga Instagrammers in weird pretzel shapes and impossible looking balances, right? What would you say to someone who’s put off by this? I think the most important thing for a beginner to keep in mind when they see all of the advanced postures on Instagram, is that what they’re looking at is the sum total of a lot of failure! If you see someone balancing in a handstand, what you don’t see in that image is the thousands of times that they’ve fallen over. I think with moves like these, a lot of people will try them once or twice, or maybe even ten times and then give up. The final step for anyone who has mastered the separate aspects of a posture but can’t quite nail the posture itself, is to tell themselves to repeat what they’re practising at least a thousand times. Give yourself five years, ten years, to see any big results, and then you can let yourself off the hook for not being perfect. It’s the constant
photo KAREN YEOMANS
working towards something in yoga that keeps a practitioner just humble enough, and helps them to understand that the practice is there to make them a better person. The quality of your effort is what actually matters, not the pretzel shape at the end! We’re inspired! But you’re so good at everything - why do you keep on practising!? Just because I can touch my
head to my toes doesn’t mean that I’ve reached the goal! It’s like climbing a mountain and the further
up you get the more you’re able to see, as you see more you realise that there are many more peaks ahead to climb. Yoga is about the internal, not the external, and accessing the infinite spaces within ourselves. In that sense it doesn’t make any difference whether you’ve been practising for a week, a month, or a lifetime, there’s always somewhere new to go, so keep at it! Photos by Karen Yeomans www.karenyeomans.com
Enjoy classes with Kino from your own home Hone your Ashtanga practice with Kino's Cody fitness videos. Build your physical and mental strength with her latest '21 Day Be Strong' bundle. Kino will assist you to reach beyond your self-imposed limits and rise out of your comfort zone. She'll be with you each step of the way as you meet challenges with grace, resolve, and focus, and all from your computer! Enter our New Year competition on page 50 for a chance to win Kino's Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series from Cody. For more information about Cody visit www.codyapp.com
photo KAREN YEOMANS
THE ART OF SELF PRACTICE By
elf-practice is an art. I like to think of it as play-at-home-yoga. People often ask me how to start a home-practice and I think of the times that I’ve been told it’s “easy”, “just roll out your mat and do it.” Sure, it may be easy for some, and maybe it’s easy once you’re in the zone, but it’s certainly not always so easy to take those first wobbly, uneasy steps into the world of ‘yoga at home’. We all have lives of hustle and bustle; coffee chugging, client meetings, a three-year-old pulling on your leg, non-stop phone calls, playdates, social gatherings, laundry, dishes (I could go on). We live in a time when we have information piercing through our fingertips 24 hours a day, ‘honey-do’ lists stretching longer than our arms, and at no other time in the history of mankind have we been in more of a hurry. It is no wonder we leave our self-care on the back burner. We have gently worn yoga pants turned into lounge pants (beerasana pants, here here!), we pay for un-used gym memberships and find ourselves with stacks of expired yoga class-passes to our favorite local studio (expired class passes, say what? Just me? Cool). Many days I feel like I’m dragging the skin on my forehead across my living room rug and trying to pull myself into the present moment and other days I feel as though I am flying in my living room. It is no wonder that no yoga practice is the same - no one day in our lives is alike; some days we soar and on others we sink. What we have to remember though, is that it’s all yoga. The practice of yoga does not require fancy pants, sticky mats, wooden floors or the wafting scent of patchouli. If you can find your breath, you can practise yoga - anywhere. But what does
finding your breath mean exactly? We're not just talking about your lungs here, but rather breathing, and with each breath being completely honest with yourself - expecting nothing and accepting everything. To put it simply, to find the breath is to be present. Building a home-practice starts with finding this breath and using it to move the body as we desire. Routine Routine is super important. Develop a routine and stick with it. Commit to starting a practice at home and spend as little as ten minutes a day on your mat. Start with this and work your way up to longer periods of practice. I found it difficult to stay committed until I asked myself to take at least ten minutes every day, for two weeks, even if that meant laying in savasana the entire time. After two weeks my practice became a part of my daily routine, like my morning coffee. Space To begin, commandeer a floor space in your home, near a window or a hallway perhaps. Anywhere that you can move your body. I like to put my mat next to the windows in our living room where the sun can stream into my practice. Intention Set an intention for your practice. Before you start give yourself a moment to adjust to what you’re about to do. Come to sit or lay down and allow your thoughts to guide you to where you need to be. Your intention can be as simple as focussing on deep inhalations and exhalations or getting to the end of your session without interruptions. Postures Practise poses that you like. Start out by doing what feels good in your body. If you like a certain sequence that you’ve learned from a class, do it. If hanging out in downward dog feels good, do it. Don’t worry about how to do yoga, you’ll feel it in your body. The physical body gives us information
about what feels nice and not-so-nice, whilst the breath guides us into postures, so listen to both. A home-practice is also one of the best ways to get creative whilst no one is watching. Most days, I find myself dancing in my practice as I move to rhythms in my breath within each posture! Go with how you feel - some days music has me bustin’ a move and others, I find still stillness in longer holds where my breath is the only music I need. Self-practice is self-care is self love Your home-practice just another form of self-care. You brush your teeth in the morning, you have a shower and check the mirror, so why wouldn’t you also just get on your mat and practise another form of self-care? Dedicating a little time to tuning out of
the world and tuning into yourself is the one of the greatest acts of caring for yourself. Yoga has taught me that my breath has the capacity to change an outcome in any situation. I don’t have to be on my mat to slow my breath, tune out for a second, focus on myself and change what’s going on inside my head. Take time out of your day absolutely anywhere - on the bus, at your desk, waiting for a meeting - and use those brief moments as a tool to bring yourself into what’s going on in the present. Remember that once you’ve got that, you’re practising yoga constantly, whether or not you’ve got your best Lycra and your wafting patchouli out! Follow Steph on Instagram @stephynow
THE PRACTISING PENSIONERS' CLUB THE NEW GENERATION OF YOGIS ARE HERE AND THERE'S NO STOPPING THEM
ao Porchon-Lynch, the glamorous French-Indian yogi and dancer was brought up in Pondicherry, India, by her aunt and her uncle, who was a close friend of Gandhi. Tao recalls seeing some young boys doing yoga on a beach when she was eight, and tugging at her aunt’s sleeve to tell her that she wanted to do it too. “Oh my goodness, you can’t do that, it’s yoga, it’s not ladylike”, Tao’s aunt told her, perhaps not yet having recognised the wilful determination that still characterises this animated lady. “I remember thinking that if boys could do it, then I could definitely do it too, so I just followed them, I didn’t really know what I was doing”, recalls Tao. At 96 years old (yes that’s right, 96) Tao Porchon-Lynch is officially the world’s oldest yoga teacher. She’s the picture of health and looks as glamorous as her photos would lead you to believe. She apologises for the delay in our meeting - her schedule has been cram-packed over the last month and she’s only just finished wrapping up her latest book. When she’s not writing books, Tao keeps herself occupied teaching regular yoga classes across New York, taking part in competitive dance competitions across the globe and releasing yoga DVDs. Tao is the master of positive thinking, and she has a story to tell me. “I taught a 72-year old war veteran”, she explains. “A funny little man who saw me doing yoga and said to me ‘I didn’t come to do that! I’ve never been able to do that’. I asked him ‘what did you come for then’ and he said ‘I came to see you.’” But what this veteran didn’t realise was that ‘can’t’ and ‘never’ don’t come into Tao’s vocabulary. “Don’t ever say to me that you can’t do it”, she replied, “I’m going to show you that you can”. And so she got him into dancer’s pose and - Tao chuckles - “he couldn’t quite believe it! He had all 90 of my stu-
photo ROBERT STURMAN
dents jumping up and down with excitement, and he was jumping up and down saying ‘did you see that, did you see that! I couldn’t even do that when I was a little child.’” We chat about the mission to prove that anyone can do yoga and Tao tells me her theory is that there’s nothing you can’t do with your body, only things that you can. “Breathing is the key”, she tells me, “if you learn to breathe properly, you open the door to a whole new world of possibilities. If you can work with the knowledge that you have immense strength inside of you, then when you get to the point where you think you can’t, you can listen to your breath and hear that power and do everything that you want to do.” And do everything she certainly has. Tao has not always been a yoga teacher. Not one to let the grass grow under her feet her CV boasts careers in modelling, acting and dancing. She also wrote screenplays, produced documentaries and, get this, co-founded the American Wine Society. So how did she get to yoga teaching? When she got to Hollywood, Indra Devi, renowned yoga teacher and pioneer in bringing yoga to the western world, collared Tao and asked her “what are you doing here with this acting malarkey, why are you not teaching yoga?” Tao told her that she didn’t know enough. “Nonsense”, was Indra’s response. “That’s when I decided to do it”, says Tao. Tao is convinced that it’s yoga that has kept so unbelievably spritely, but finding myself sceptical about the idea that she isn’t just an anomaly who seems to be able to defy the laws of time and nature, I chat to Fenella Lindsell, who’s been teaching ‘older adults’ for over a decade. She invites me to a class to show me that Tao is perhaps not the only one bouncing around in their retirement as a result of yoga. As I sit cross-legged on the floor waiting for Fenella’s students to arrive, we chat about how her classes began. Fenella began subsidised yoga classes for 'older adults' in her local GP surgery, Balham Park,
photo ROBERT STURMAN
expecting a handful of attendees. Thirteen years later she is running several fully-booked classes per week as well as regular retreats both in the UK and further afield. Our conversation is cut short by the arrival of Fenella’s students, and as the door swings open my heart sinks a little. These students must only be in their late forties, which is not quite what I was looking for. Whilst the students take off jackets and don yoga gear, I double check the age range of the group and Fenella tells me that the youngest in the group is 67, the oldest 86. I look around again at the group dragging their mats into place and sitting cross-legged, waiting with bated breath for their vinyasa flow, and I can’t quite believe my eyes. I chat with the students before their warm-up and they’re almost as surprised as I am about their age. “I’ve lied about my age so many times that I can’t remember how old I really am!”, Liz quips as she smoothes down her floral leggings and adjusts her incredibly stylish thick-framed cerise spectacles. Liz makes up the last 68 years in the seven-strong group who, between them, have racked up nearly 500 years. She still works in advertising in Carnaby street and so “can’t afford to behave like an old fogey”, she says with a mischievious grin. “Yoga helps me to keep up with the young ones, and means I can chop a few years off my age! It keeps me sane too, it’s the one thing that’s truly mine and nobody else’s”. John is 70 and has been coming since he was 61. He does his yoga alongside regular dog-sitting and since coming to Fenella’s class says he’s never looked back. “It’s not always easy to drag yourself to class”, he grins, “but once you do you don’t feel anything other than amazing. My yoga gives me purpose.” Fenella’s class starts off with some gentle stretching, allowing everyone to get warmed-up and to pay attention to how their body is feeling. I’m all prepared for this to be the tone of the class throughout, but feel a twinge of guilt at my patronising presumption as Fenella begins to work the students through full sun salutes and the standing series begins. There’s
fun to be had too as Gill grunts during some of the trickier postures and the other students giggle. Fenella explains to me that Gill is the class ‘grunt-ometer’, the scientific gauge that allows Fenella to see when she’s pushing a little too hard. Fenella seems to know the intricacies of each student’s body as well as what they’re aiming for – she knows that Sue was seriously ill six years ago and attends classes religiously to build her strength; she knows that Jill wants to keep supple and that Sarah just wants to be able to put her socks on, and she knows that Martine has been practising some form of yoga for most of her life and has a penchant for snazzy leggings. Carmen, the group’s veteran, is 86 years old and was unable to move from lying to standing when she first began her practice – now she does it without a second thought. Jill tells me she had a similar experience. “Standing up from being led down was like conducting some sort of three-point-turn”, she laughs, “when I first came to class and saw everybody putting their mats out and getting on the floor I thought that I’d get stuck! Now I can’t believe that was even something I thought about.” According to Tao, experiences like these repeat themselves time and time again. People think that they can’t do yoga for a million reasons, when they finally take the plunge yoga seems to wear away those reasons, until slowly they realise that they can, and they probably always could. I’m starting to believe that Tao might be right, maybe she’s not such an anomaly after all, maybe she’s just someone who, like Fenella’s students, had the courage to get on the mat and get on with it. “Don’t think I’m anything special”, says Tao as we say our goodbyes, “I’m not anything special, I’m just not interested in what I can’t do, only in what I can. The one thing I know now is that tomorrow never comes, so don’t procrastinate. If you want to do something, go and do it. Now.” Photos by Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com
photo ROBERT STURMAN
Where art meets athletic wear Interview
ilena and Jelena Aleksic, two artistic and sporty twins from Serbia started drawing before they started talking, and after years of trudging around in boring sports gear, at the age of 21 they pooled their talents and Arthletic was born. Arthletic gear allows you to don yourself in bespoke pieces of art, beautifully crafted into stretchy sportswear, and then get a sweat on...whatâ€™s not to love?
Whatâ€™s different about Arthletic leggings? I think you'll
agree that there aren't exactly many brands of printed leggings out there. Our leggings go beyond that though. Not only do we hand-draw every design, we also pay a huge amount of attention to detail so that every line, curve and colour follows the shape of the leg. Every piece is made with love!
Where did your amazing idea come from? Drawing was
the first thing we learnt when we were kids. Our father was a painter so he thought it was important to bring out the creative side in kids and he was abso-
lutely right. We became obsessed with drawing and instead of playing with toys, we drew characters in different settings and pretended to be in the world of our drawings, it was loads of fun! Twenty years later we were drawing a girl doing natarajasana in a pair of dragon leggings and that's when the idea to start a brand was born. We thought the leggings looked pretty rad and wanted to make them for ourselves originally, but when we shared our idea with the Instagram yogis, they all encouraged us to start our own brand. At what point did you know that your idea was going to become a reality? It definitely all became real for
us the moment our Kickstarter project reached its funding goal. It was a very emotional moment because until then, we hadnâ€™t realised the importance of our decision to start a brand. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, or how it would all work out, we just knew we were following our hearts and our dream, and then suddenly it was no longer a dream!
Who does the designing? Or do you work together? Con-
sidering the fact that we are twins, it's safe to say that we do everything together. We've been together all our lives and always worked as partners in crime, whether it's getting away with mischief or designing a pair of leggings!
Do you guys plan to branch out to other types of clothing? What about men - they always have to put up with boring yoga clothes, they could do with something a bit more jazzy!? Yes, we definitely plan to expand our
brand! The dudes definitely need some jazzy yoga clothes too so we plan to make that happen! It's a completely new field for us though, so we want to think everything through before getting ourselves into the unknown. Designing clothes for women is easier for us since we are women ourselves and understand what women in yoga want. When it comes to guys, that's a whole new story, but we are hoping
we'll provide them with exactly what they need. How has yoga and your business changed your relationship? Ever since we started doing yoga a year ago,
our lives completely changed. We used to be two shy, insecure kids, who were constantly bullied in school and had no self-confidence. Yoga made us question ourselves deeply and is the main reason we decided to make a change in our lives. Since we started doing yoga together, we have been encouraging each other to be more confident and to overcome the things that were holding us back. Our relationship became stronger and at the same time we grew stronger in ourselves. This strength helped us make the decision to start our brand at such a young age.
Whatâ€™s your favourite product to practise in? Jelena: Hmm... that's a hard question! I couldn't possibly
decide on one, but I'd say my top two favorites are the Unicorn Leggings and Phoenix Harem Pants. My inner child loves ponies and fairy-tales so maybe that explains it! These two designs always make me feel happy and carefree when I wear them, so that's why they're my favorites. Milena: I think I'll have to go with the Dragon leggings! I've always been the more insecure one, but when I wear this design I feel like a strong and confident woman. I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs in yoga whilst wearing these leggings, so that's another reason they're my fave! What advice would you give to someone who has something they’re passionate about and wants to change it into a business? Go for it! If you have a passion and
you have the will to withstand any obstacle that might cross your path, then don't hesitate for another second, do something about it! Life is too short to care about what others have planned for you, so live your life by your own plan. If they don't like it, so what? Even if you fail at it, at least you'll know that you tried. It's better to have a life full of "oh well" than a life full of "what if ". Any inspirational New Year advice? Don't write New
Year's resolutions this year! Instead, take a piece of paper right now and write an answer to this question: “What is your dream?” Now take this paper and stick it on your bathroom mirror or anything that you look at all of the time; absolutely DON'T take it down until you've fulfilled your dream. It'll be worth it.
What’s the one question you always wish someone would ask you, and what’s your answer to it? The most im-
portant question for anyone is "Are you happy with your life?". Everyone should ask themselves this question. If you can't look back at all the things you've achieved and say that you're happy then you know you have to make a change. Are we happy with our lives? Absolutely.
The better I become, the better the world will be.
raze chatted to Catalyst Activewear founder Daniel Roy to get a flavour of the brand that’s a little bit different and we liked what we found.
Out of a cool south London studio, a new ethical yoga brand has been born, and it wants you to make an impact. Ok, so they make leggings and tops just like any other yoga brand, but this time round it's different. Catalyst Activewear is not interested in selling you stuff, sorry guys, they want you to be someone who's interested in changing the world, just like they are. So how are they making a difference? For Daniel, Catalyst Activewear isn’t about getting stock sold, it's about being the driving force behind change, no matter how small. By creating a beautiful and ethical product that people can be proud to wear, Catalyst Activewear hopes to become a brand that people will be proud to be a part of. From the design table to the display rack, Catalyst Activewear takes care of the entire production pro-
cess. Unhappy with some of the best tailors in the world being based in the UK, yet the nearest sportswear manufacturing machinery being located in the Far East, Catalyst made the unusual decision to purchase all of the necessary machinery and have it shipped over to the UK and installed in their London-based manufacturers. Fully controlling the entire production process was “ the only way to be absolutely, totally, and definitely sure that Catalyst garments give the same satisfaction over and over again. Every garment is designed and built to Catalyst’s standards.” And it’s certainly true that the final product feels more like a luxuriously tailored garment than your average flimsy “can you see my underwear in downward dog” piece. Of course the ‘Made in the UK’ label also significantly decreases carbon emissions, something else that Catalyst are deeply passionate about. To this end the brand are partnered with the World Land Trust and for every metre of fabric used Catalyst funds the purchase of a metre of forest in Ecuador or Mexico. Daniel Roy, founder and owner of Victor's Lab studio and now Catalyst Activewear, has started to run regular 'Catalyst community classes', where yogis and sporty types alike participate in a splash of exercise and then are treated some inspirational and thought-provoking speeches from 'catalysts' who are trying to make a difference in one way or another. Nibbles and drinks are provided by Daniel afterwards in the hope that future 'catalysts' might mingle and share their ideas and projects with a view to collaborating and 'catalysing' change. “If you choose Catalyst then your choice means less carbon, less transport and more earth for us all to live in, and that’s what being a Catalyst is all about”, says Daniel. Catalyst don’t want people to wear their brand, they want them to be it. Make an impact, be a Catalyst.
1. Cody, Irene Pappas 30 Day Yoga Bootcamp
ick of trekking to your studio in the rain? Cody are bringing the classes to you! Irene Pappas' 30 day bootcamp is perfect for working on the fundamentals of strength and flexibilty and its structure means you'll feel yourself progressing throughout the month. £19 www.codyapp.com
2. Arthletic, 2015 Collection
t Draze we tried out the Mermaid leggings and the Ink Splash top. All of Arthletic's prints are hand drawn and super innovative and the high-quality Italian fabrics fit like a second-skin whilst providing that all important stretch factor. A must-have for 2015. From £25 www.arthleticwear.com
3. Black+Blum, Water Bottle
ot only does this water bottle look so great that you'll never forget to drink plently post-practice, it also makes your water taste great. With a Bichotan active charcoal stick wedged inside, it reduces chlorine, mineralises your water and balances pH. £14.95 www.black-blum.com
4. Yogabum, Breathable Mat
dd a splash of colour to your downward dog with this newly released, eco-friendly, breathable yoga mat. With two layers this clever mat is perfect for a sweaty practice; the base layer grips the floor whilst the honeycomb layer lets your hands breathe. £34.99 www.yogabum.eu
LUMI POWER YOGA Review
t was a drizzly Saturday morning before 10am and I’d already covered about eight miles of London in order to arrive at Hammersmith’s Lumi Power Yoga. In classically un-yogic fashion I was bleary eyed and not overly thrilled by the prospect of 90 minutes in a heated studio. My week had been hectic, I'd had a restless night's sleep and each of my various modes of transport that morning had timed themselves perfectly to miss each other by just a few milliseconds. I was in a grump. Upon entering the studio though, my mood seemed to lift, the hustle and bustle of the tube drained away and I began to feel the chilled out atmosphere of the studio reception seep into me. I started to look forward to class. A sneaky pre-class peek around this maze-like
space revealed a hidden Hammersmith gem. Bathrooms, immaculately furnished and gently scented with burning oils and fresh flowers; changing rooms, spotlessly clean and with all of the necessary equipment and showers that could have been taken straight out of a show home. The practice spaces themselves, of which there are two, have been kept devoid of decoration “to keep the focus on the class”, as Elina, co-founder and owner of the studio explains. The plain white walls and utilitarian prop-storage shelves could feel clinical and bare, but instead, perhaps owing to the studio’s luxurious parquet flooring and huge panoramic windows, the whole space feels calm and unfussy, a place to actually focus on my practice and myself rather than somewhere that might look really hip and yogic in a post-practice selfie.
As far as aesthetics go, and aside from its smaller square footage, Lumi Power Yoga puts up some stiff competition for any of the major central London studios. Despite that similarity, there’s something I can’t put my finger on that feels different from the vibe of its larger competitors. At Lumi Power Yoga I sit waiting for my class watching receptionists, customers and teachers exchange jokes and stories about their latest London escapades. I chat idly to the welcoming faces who don't recognise me but are interested to know if I am going to become a regular so that I can join their Christmas-themed class. I explore the studio further, and am pointed in the right direction for a mat and props, and reminded to “just ask” if there’s anything else I might need. Something suddenly dawns on me. I feel like I'm back in my local studio, like I'd rather hang out here all day than face the rush of the city once again. As someone who began their yoga journey well outside of London, I often find myself yearning for the atmosphere of the cosier, community-based studios outside of the capital. I long for the days when I would lay my mat down next to a familiar face and receiving a knowing “yeah-I-dragged-myself-out-of-bed-too” nod at my 9am hot power flow, when I arrived at class early to catch up with the teacher and left late after coffee with my fellow yogis. Lumi Power Yoga is your local studio, in the heart of the city. The metaphorical cosy sofa plonked in the middle of a harsh, uncaring industrial machine. I chat to Elina, teacher and co-owner of the studio: “we’re a little different to the big London studios in that many of our students started their yoga journey with us and we have cared for and nurtured them along that journey.” With only a few different class types to choose from, perhaps some would find the class offerings of Lumi Power Yoga too simplistic, but this is part of the point. Many of the larger central London studios can be confusing, intimidating and overwhelming. “Soho’s studios are full of dancers who pop along to yoga after a hard day of train-
ing. They’re fit, but more importantly they’re super flexible, which can be very intimidating for someone just getting on the mat after ten years hunched over a computer” says Elina. “Many of our clients started their yoga practice with us, and so we had to adapt to that, remove a lot of the mystery and dogma that surrounds yoga and bring it back to basics.” That’s not to say that the seasoned yogi can’t be challenged here, and in fact Elina’s fabulous alignment instructions and motivational attitude have me discovering bits of muscle I’d been previously oblivious to. Based around the teachings of Baron Baptiste (www.baronbaptiste.com), the studio’s classes offer a powerful flow which can have your limbs trembling if you so choose, whilst remaining accessible to everyone through the teacher’s clever management of students’ varied levels. The main idea behind the sequence and the way it’s taught here, is to encourage people from every walk of life to come to yoga “as they are”, not fitter or more flexible or with better leggings. “All you need to do is turn up”, says Elina, “because you’re perfect just as you are. Once you’ve turned up then that’s the hard part over and we’ll guide you from there at whatever level suits you.” As a by-product of their determination to get those new and perhaps more sceptical yogis through the door, Lumi Power Yoga’s classes also offer a refreshing change of scenery from so many of the serious classes I’ve attended in the past. There are no rules against having a bit of a giggle when you get stuck in your splits, which can be nothing but a much needed addition to any practice! For more information on the studio and to book classes visit www.lumipoweryoga.com
Main image clothing by Catalyst Activewear www.catalyst-activewear.com
tart the new year in style. Win a huge hoard of yoga prizes including Onzie leggings, classes at Hot Bikram Yoga, London & Triyoga, a Yoga Bum breathable yoga mat, a Catalyst Activewear sports bra and Kino MacGregor's Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series from Cody.
How to Enter Take a photo that symbolises your practice, upload onto your fave social media site, follow Draze magazine and tag us in your pic. The winning photo will feature in Draze and its owner will receive the whole stash of goodies! i: @drazemagazine t: @drazemagazine f: facebook.com/ drazemagazine
photo AMANDA BISK
For the yoga vulture: one handily sized and super slick magazine, packed with gritty articles, honest reviews and beautiful photos. Featurin...
Published on Jan 5, 2015
For the yoga vulture: one handily sized and super slick magazine, packed with gritty articles, honest reviews and beautiful photos. Featurin...