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December 2011

NEWSLETTERWINTER 2012

Season’s greetings.. Namaste!

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welcome to our latest newsletter By James Russell

exeterlovesyoga 2012 looks set to be another exciting year for the growing Exeter yoga community. I’m delighted to tell you that the first ever ‘Devon Yoga Festival’ is definitely going ahead in August 2012: three days of yoga set in a beautiful venue in the heart of Devon. With over 40 workshops to choose from and around 20 teachers taking part, it looks set to be a wonderful event, ‘embracing the holistic practices of

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yoga.’ More information can be found later on in this newsletter. Four new teachers have joined the exeterlovesyoga collective. I’d like to welcome Samphire Bartholomew, Emily Dommett, Julie Bladon and Jill Hurley. For more information on these teachers, please visit the exeterlovesyoga website and go to our teachers page. Well done to Jillian, who won last season’s quiz and received a free

* exeterlovesyoga t-shirt. Look out for your chance to win a free yoga mat in this newsletter. We’ve lots of great articles for you on all things yoga, including a piece on this year’s international yoga festival in Rishikesh. Thank you everyone who has contributed to this newsletter and to all you lovely people for making this such a vibrant yoga community. Hari OM James


NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

Posture Focus Paschimottanasana: Westside posture As the seasons change, many yoga practitioners adapt their asana practice accordingly. Now that its colder and damper, we may find we need to spend a bit longer on warming up. Our practice may be softer, adopting what is sometimes called a “yin” (passive) practice. It is useful to hold the postures a bit longer and to focus on using the breath to bring relaxation to the body. Paschimottanasana is an excellent winter/yin posture. Paschimotta means “westside.” Traditionally, yoga is practised in the morning facing the rising sun: therefore, the front of the body is facing east and the back of the body west. In this posture the whole of the back of the body is stretched, hence the name ‘westside.’

Paschimottanasana is one of the 15 crucial yoga postures described in the 14th century text: The Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama. In this text, it states:

“Paschimottanasa is the best among asanas.

8) Remain as long as you feel By this asana the pranic currents rise comfortable. On an inhalation lift the through sushumna, the digestive fire head and return to the start position. increases, the abdomen becomes flat, and the practitioner becomes free from Benefits: diseases.” (1:29) This posture stretches the Technique: 1) Sit with the legs outstretched together and the toes pointing upwards. 2) Sit up tall, lengthen the spine and ,as you inhale, open the chest. 3) As you exhale, slowly fold forwards moving from the hips. 4) Slide the hands down to the legs. Eventually you will be able to clasp hold of the toes or the feet, but if this is difficult then you could hold the ankles or any part of the leg that can be reached comfortably. You could also use a strap. 5) On an inhalation open the chest and look forwards. 6) As you exhale fold in a bit more deeply and draw the head towards the legs. The eye gaze can be either towards the toes (as below) or relax the head and drop the eye gaze down towards the legs. 7) Relax! The posture should be steady and comfortable. Ideally, the legs remain straight but if you have very tight hamstrings then you could soften and bend knees.

hamstrings, and increases flexibility in the hip joints. The pelvis and abdominal area is toned and massaged and excess fat is removed from this area. On an energy level, this posture stimulates the mulahara and swadhisthana chakras. Sequence: This posture is very effective when practised in conjunction with back bending postures such as setu asana (bridge) and bhujangasana (cobra.) When we drop the head down in this posture it becomes a very introspective, nurturing posture that is very much in keeping with the winter season in which there is a tendency to hibernate, to stay indoors, to look within. Seasonal Challenge: Try practising this posture regularly, ideally each day. Initially hold for 10 breaths, then steadily increase the duration each day until you can comfortably hold for several minutes. If you find your mind wandering whilst in the posture, try using ujjayi breath to focus the mind and calm the nervous system.

PASCHIMOTTANASANA “Stretching the legs (in front) on the ground, like a stick; bending forward, holding the toes with both hands and placing the forehead on the knees, is called Paschimottanasana.”

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1:28

Lotus Loft Studio

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NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

From Dive Master to Yoga Teacher

Emily teaches regular classes in exeter. Visit the exeterlovesyoga website for info.

By Emily Dommett

So what do you do when your dreams of being a Scuba Diving Instructor are snatched away in the space of an hour? Well, get on the plane to Thailand for a start! Life is dynamic and full of twists and turns. If I try to plan too far in advance, I can guarantee that something will go wrong, and after completing a Dive Master qualification and 18 months of planning to become a Scuba Diving Instructor, it all ended in just over an hour, after my husband was diagnosed with a lung condition (not so good if you’re planning on spending most of your day 20m’s underwater!) Still, the flights were booked and the resignation letter was written, so Thailand it was!

chilled out in the steam room that they had built to replace the bath’s they missed so much. And that was it, how I started yoga. Or, should I say, how yoga found me.?

When I returned to the UK, finding Jay’s class in Exeter was a gift. A little function room, that somehow Jay had me quite literally skipping too every week! Still, back in the UK, I was restless; I had itchy feet and wanted to plan! I’m someone who lives life through endless lists and plans. I’m a great believer that you need goals in life, something to aim for. One day about 6 months after my first class with Jay I decided to take a peek at a website she had recently mentioned – That was the start, the bendy bit clicked ExeterLovesYoga.co.uk. This was my first encounter with the website, and I instantly, the strength bit is still being can quite honestly say it changed my worked on, and the rest is just life! Within an hour I had decided to beginning! I’m sure the passion I’ve become a yoga teacher! Now, as I write developed for practicing yoga wasn’t hurt by the fact that Theresa & Kes had this I find it amusing that I made such a life-changing decision in such a short built the most amazing space, a yoga time, I did have 18 months to mull it platform that looked out on to tropical over however, whilst I saved up for the forests. We were introduced to Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Ayurveda and fees! Yoga Philosophy. We feasted on huge I think to start with, the decision to go bowls of muesli, tropical fruit and to Bali was more for me; to learn about yogurt after our morning practice, and Once in Thailand and settled in to our friend’s bungalows on the North East of the island of Koh Phangan, I needed something else to do and remembered that there was a yoga retreat just up the road from our bungalows. So I took myself over to find out some information. I’d never tried yoga, but it had always held a fascination for me. The Yoga Retreat offered a 5 day ‘Introduction to Yoga’, so I signed myself up for the following Monday.

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myself, to meet new people and a little bit to put myself out of my comfort zone for 4 weeks. I am someone who has only just warmed to a leaf of lettuce in my sandwich, and the food served on the course was 100% raw! Not vegetarian, not even vegan, but 100% Vegan & Raw! It was an amazing 4 weeks; I had the opportunity to learn from so many remarkable teachers and from all the others on the course. Now again I find myself back in beautiful Devon and strangely enough I teach the same class that inspired me so much! I am also now one of the teachers on ExeterLovesYoga.co.uk. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I feel so grateful for the last 4 years. Back in January 2008 I could never have begun to imagine all the wonderful things I would experience because of the news I couldn’t be a Scuba Diving Instructor, and I’m in no doubt my life would have been fantastic if I had taken that path. But I know deep down that yoga would have found me eventually. In the words of Goeth ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.'


NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

Living the Yamas and Niyamas Ahimsa By Jay Kipling

Yoga was the vehicle that both alerted me to this damaging behaviour and allowed me to change it. Who needs to tut when you show gratitude that you have a body that moves, Ahimsa is, on the surface of it, one of the ‘no-brainer’ yamas. and when your focus works so deep that you are blissed out on the flow and the breath. No need for harsh self-judgment Clearly it is a good idea not to start wars, mug elderly people with a practice that shows you the fun of what you thought in the street or even say terrible things you can’t take back you never could do, and rewires your brain to understand this during a flaming row with your spouse. massive potential in all areas of your life.

AHIMSA –non-harming; kindness to all beings; the avoidance of violence and injury.

Depending on your beliefs (and the idea of ahimsa is certainly one that spans all philosophies and religious faiths from Hippocrates to Buddhism along with plain simple sensible life-style choices), it’s a wise option because you’ll either get it back in nasty karma or will frankly just make day to day life a lot more complicated and unpleasant for yourself and everyone around you. Choosing not to eat meat is another good example of ahimsa, and very much a part of the yogic lifestyle. I recently met an absolutely devoted ashtanga teacher who was well into the Second Series and could chant whole swathes of the yoga sutras from memory – but still ate meat every day. Even just for health reasons this was beyond my comprehension. But if you need persuading about the spiritual benefits of a meat-free diet, take a look at the Jivamukti book, any of the websites at the end of this article that show the realities of mass production farming, or, if you have an extremely strong stomach, a film called Earthlings. It is perhaps summarized best by Gandhi who said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged best by the way its animals are treated.”

By practicing through asana, one begins to access the body’s innate wisdom which knows what is right for us. By learning not to push into physical pain, and by using our breath as the guide, we gain knowledge on how to manage our behaviours and emotions in order to attain Patanjali’s ‘steady, comfortable seat’ in life as well as on the mat. We live in a society which urges us to push harder, faster, better. To never be satisfied with where we are, but to always set goals and look ahead. Where no pain is no gain. Yoga offers us a blessed chance to appreciate just where and who we are, right now. As a recent student of mine said after a detox retreat, “I am now going to listen to what I need rather than what I want.” This is one my favourite quotes, from Judith Lasater: “I practice now not so much with ambition but with gratitude.” And no tutting. Jay Kipling www.jayyoga.org

Anyway I digress, as I don’t feel I am here to deliver a (possibly quite violent and non-ahimsa) pro-vegetarianism lecture. Because there is a more subtle, and for some people more problematic, quality to ahimsa which is worth examining. And that is kindness and non-harming to oneself. When I first started learning yoga with Andrea Durant, every time I couldn’t do a posture, which was….er….every posture, I would ‘tut’ – and I would like now to heartily apologise to everyone in those early Derekthedog classes as I realise now quite how irritating it must have been (unless of course you all had much better focus than me and were blocking out my audible struggles). It took many weeks for Andrea to finally point this out to me in her gentle, intuitive way. And it was quite a shock. I realised that I didn’t just tut in yoga class. Silent tuts would follow me around for most of the day; when I dropped something, messed up a work task or did pretty much anything that didn’t meet a ridiculous self-imposed level of perfection. But what on earth was I achieving? Was I learning new ways? Filling myself with love for the universe and others? Contributing something profound to the planet? No. I was simply repeating a pattern of judgment that all too often would spill over into my view of others, taught me nothing productive and made me thoroughly miserable.

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Jay Kipling Jay has been teaching in Exeter for a number of years and recently returned from Jamaica where she completed advanced training in the Ashtanga Vinyasa method.


NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

in speed and intensity. You don't need to be good at singing to join in and you don't need to have good By James Russell sense of rhythm either. Kirtan is all about people coming together and Kirtan is a form of bhakti yoga: the sharing the space. yoga of love and devotion. Kirtan The chants are uplifting and usually takes the form of call-andenergising. By directing the mind to response chanting and the singing of a mantra the disturbing waves of the songs and sacred mantras, to the mind diminish and we are able to accompaniment of a variety of experience a sense of freedom and instruments. bliss. Kirtan enables us to transcend Kirtan has been found by many to the mundane material world and to be one of the most simple, fun and taste something altogether more powerful techniques of yoga. simple and satisfying for the soul. For the past couple of years a small These wonderful evenings are but growing group of us have been concluded with a modest spread of meeting regularly at Derekthedog yoga sumptuous vegetarian refreshments and studio and enjoying this ancient an opportunity to talk to old and new practice. friends. Barry Kirstadas and his Kirtan Exeter kirtan runs on a non-profit band ‘Gopi Gita’ lead the chants. Barry basis and we ask people to donate a plays the Harmonium, Jo the mrdanga small offering to cover costs. All money drum, Jules on piano, Tanya bass and left over is donated to the charities guitar, myself on cartels and sometimes Birthlight and the Yoga Biomedical Alice joins us on celtic drum. Trust. Barry calls the various chants and Due to the growing popularity of the rest of us repeat each line. The this event, kirtans are now being held on mantras normally start slowly and build a bi-monthly basis. The next kirtans will

Exeter Kirtan Chant and be happy!

take place at Derekthedog yoga studio at 18:45 on: 26th November 2011 21st January 2012 24th March 2012 Please do come along and join us. If you would like more information on this and other kirtan events then please visit Barry’s website: www.ukbhakti.org

Derekthedog yoga studio An oasis of calm in the city centre

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NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh The Land of Yoga By Julie Bladon

As we get further into the depths of winter, you may be considering your holiday plans. Perhaps even thinking about a yoga retreat? You may be new to yoga and not too sure what type of yoga is for you or a more experienced practitioner who would like to immerse more deeply into your practice. Well I could have the answer for you….! The International Yoga Festival takes place in Rishikesh, India at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram during March 2012. The Festival is a celebration of the “union” and oneness of yoga featuring over 60 hours of yoga classes from world-class yoga teachers and the opportunity to experience spiritual yogic practises. With a truly global selection of teachers, the classes range from traditional Hatha yoga to Kundalini yoga, from Iyengar to Ashtanga Vinyasa. This provides the perfect opportunity to “taste test” many different styles and practice to find out what works best for you. Guest teachers include Shiva Rea (vinyasa teacher); Swami Yoganandaji (aged 103 and practicing since the age of 17), Bhava Ram (San Diego based Vedic Healer); Roberto Milletti (Rome based yoga teacher); and many more.

Rishikesh is the gateway for the higher Himalayan treks and pilgrimage sites so you will have the opportunity to explore the region if you wish. Local travel agents can prepare a tour itinerary so that you can make the most of your trip. Rishikesh is known as the “land of yoga” and the surrounding area has an abundance of temples and national parks to explore. This is a perfect stop to deepen your yoga practice, meet plenty of likeminded yogis and imbibe Indian culture. The International Yoga Festival is a wonderful reminder that we may all practice in different ways and in different methods, yet yoga or “union” is really one. Hopefully see you there! International Yoga Festival, 1 – 7 March 2012 www.internationalyogafestival.com www.juliebladon.com

“Be with nature, learn from nature, and change your nature. Let your soul and spirit reach the height of the Himalayas in whose lap you are sitting. Let your joys, sorrows, attachments flow like the water in the Ganges. Become like the sunrise which brings light and warmth each You can explore the question “What is yoga?” to get a day and a new day to all-free of discrimination, no vacation, broader picture. By trying new styles and practices we can no hesitation, and no expectation.” broaden our horizons, allow our practice and knowledge of Swami Chdanand Saraswati ~ Spiritual Head of yoga to continue to grow. In addition to asana class, there are Parmarth Niketan Ashram classes on pranayama, chakras, and meditation, and of course the divine satsang of some of the most revered saints of India.  Plus the opportunity to experience the daily aarti, songs and prayers to the deities, on the banks of the River Ganges setting floating candles into the river.

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NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

Words of wisdom Yoganjalisaram The human being desires objects when tender in age, enjoys them when young, seeks yoga in middle age, develops detachment when old. There is the practice of Yoga of body , mind and soul always fruitful, and it gives to each through practice what they seek Regulate the breath, be happy, link the mind with the Lord in your heart This is the message of Yogi Tirumala Krishna Extract from a poem by Sri T. Krishnamacharya (1888 - 1989) “The grandfather of modern Yoga.�

Sri T. Krishnamacharya

Aims and ideals To raise the fallen, to lead the blind, to share what I have with others, to bring solace to the afflicted and to cheer up the suffering are my ideals. To have perfect faith, to love my neighbour as my own self, to love the world with all my heart and soul, to protect cows, animals and children are my aims. My watchword is Love. My goal is sahaja samadhi avastha: the natural, continuous state of bliss. Swami Sivananda Saraswati

WORDS OF WISDOM

If you have an inspiring quote, poem, photo or words of wisdom that you would like to share, then please send by email to james@exeterlovesyoga.co.uk

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Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1887 - 1963)


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NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011


NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

Devon Yoga Festival

Embracing the holistic practices of Yoga Press Release

A new yoga festival has been announced for 2012 with the aim of bringing together top quality teachers, comfortable accommodation, awardwinning food and the stunning environment of the rural West country.   The Devon Yoga Festival (www.devonyogafestival.co.uk) will be held in August 2012 at Seale Hayne near Newton Abbot in Devon, and will bring together some of the South West’s and the country’s top teachers.   Duncan Hulin, from the Devon School of Yoga (www.devonyoga.com), who is organising the festival, said: “There are a number of yoga festivals around the South West and the country but we felt there was space for something with comfortable accommodation, as opposed to camping, full award-winning 80% organic vegetarian catering and a comprehensive programme of workshops and events. We want to appeal to everyone, from curious beginners to experienced yogis. We were delighted when we found Seale Hayne – the facilities are outstanding and the surroundings are stunning; perfect for a weekend of everything yoga.” The Festival, which will run from the late afternoon on Friday 10th August 2012 to lunchtime Sunday 12th, will offer over 40 workshops in styles ranging from anusara and Satyananda to ashtanga and kundalini. There will be classes specifically tailored for children, beginners and the over 60’s, and an evening kirtan. There will also be a number of talks on the philosophy that underpins the practice and (on Saturday only) films about yoga.   Seale Hayne is an Edwardian estate set in beautiful grounds on the edge of Newton Abbot.

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“We want to appeal to everyone, from curious beginners to experienced Yogis. The facilities at Seale Hayne are outstanding and the surroundings are stunning; perfect for a weekend of everything yoga.” Duncan Hulin James Russell, from www.exeterlovesyoga.co.uk who is a member of the team organising the festival, said: “We want the event to be about the holistic practices of yoga, beyond just asana. There will be opportunities to deeply explore pranayama, kriyas and meditation. We hope the whole event will create an atmosphere of joy and mindfulness in a place of great beauty.”   The event will be not-for-profit, with donations going to the Dame Hannah Rogers Trust which is based at Seale Hayne, and the Ganga Prem Hospice in India .   Ticket prices range from £65 (£45 for children) for a day pass to £195 (£175 for children) for the full weekend, with substantial discounts available for early bird bookings.   For more information go to www.devonyogafestival.co.uk or telephone 01392 420573.


NEWSLETTERWINTER December 2011

Win a free, Yoga mat! Simply answer the questions below. Clue: most of the answers can be found somewhere in this newsletter:

1) What does ahimsa mean ? 2) The international yoga festival will be held where? 3) What is your favourite yoga asana? 4) What is the sanskrit name of westside posture? Email your answers to info@exeterlovesyoga.co.uk or use the postal address underneath. Closing date: 1st March. From those who answer correctly, we will pick one name out of the hat. That person will receive a yoga mat. Good luck! Namaste

EXETERLOVESYOGA 3 Powderham Road Exeter EX2 9BS

Yoga mat is high quality sticky mat from Yogamatters


Winter Newsletter 2012