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NOVEMBER 2016 - £4.50

EMBODYING THE WARRIOR a sequence for empowerment

REJUVENATE YOUR SPINE 11 great yoga poses

The men of yoga

celebrating men on the mat


Sleep easy

Taming your mind

the natural way to a good night’s rest

banish those voices in your head

• • • •

OM Meets – Emily-Clare Hill Just dough it – it’s bake-off time Yoga A-Z – Y is for Yoga Learning to listen – Nepal’s Kopan Monstery

Rejuvenate in style at Purple Valley Retreat, Goa. Indulge in a yoga holiday at Purple Valley - the best place for an Ashtanga Yoga retreat in Asia. Set in lush tropical gardens, with an Ayurvedic Spa, a crystal clear pool, chillout areas and a juice bar, delicious vegetarian & raw food cooked by international chefs and daily yoga with world class teachers; Including John Scott, David Keil, Mark Robberds, Laruga Glaser, Petri Raisanen, Joey Miles and many more... Beginners welcome on most courses




Milk Short Sleeve Wrap, £59. Milk Sports Bra, £38. Modal Groove Leggings, £69

Bamboo Hatha Tank, £40. Milk Capri, £55

Bamboo Cropped Cardigan, £49.

Banana Twister Tank, £49.50. Bamboo Seamless Yoga Leggings, £61.50

Bamboo Ventilation Sports Bra, £36. Banana Cover Up, £42. Bamboo Roll Down Hot Pant, £38

Bamboo Y Back Sports Bra, £31. Soybean Butterfly Top, £55. Bamboo Pure Yoga Capri, £49

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OM Magazine Issue 66, November 2016 Published by:

Prime Impact, Park House, The Business Centre Earls Colne Business Park Earls Colne, Colchester Essex. CO6 2NS Tel: 44 (0) 1787 224040 Fax: 44 (0) 1787 223535 e:

Chief Editor:

Martin D. Clark e:


Tom Sanderson e:

Art Director:

Emily Saunders e:

Advertising Manager:

Sara Stant 44 (0) 1787 224040 e:

Subscriptions and Back Issues:

Laura Bull 44 (0) 1787 224040 e:

Promotions and Blogger Jane Lambert 44 (0) 1787 224040 Community Manager: e: Marketing/Press:

Hannah Irons 44 (0) 1787 224040 e:

Publishing Director:

Keith Coomber e:

Managing Director:

Julie Saunders e:


Welcome to the November issue of OM, Britain’s biggest and best yoga monthly. Yes, from now on we’re going monthly – 12 issues per year instead of 10 – so that’ll mean even more great stories, more inspiration, and, of course, lots more yoga. And this month there’s no shortage of fantastic goodies inside for you - this is one of our biggest ever issues, a bumper 164 pages – so settle back and enjoy the read.

For starters, there’s some great yoga to keep you inspired on the mat including a sequence to rejuvenate your spine (page 44), a pregnancy sequence (page 124), and a big, brave, beautiful flow, Embodying The Warrior, with the wonderful Liz Lark (page 34). We’ve also got the second instalment of our new anatomy academy, 360˚ Yoga, this time featuring a close look at one of yoga’s most iconic poses, downward facing dog. For the fully interactive 360˚ experience then be sure to check it out via the OM app, available to download on iPads and all other popular smart devices. It’s true 21st century yoga innovation. As always, we’ve got lots of inspiring people sharing their stories as well, plus recipes and healthy eating tips, new yoga products and some amazing travel and retreat ideas. If it’s all too much then dip into one of the meditations for a bit of peace


Bruce Sawford 44 (0) 1280 860185 e:

of mind or time out during your busy day, or download some spiritual


Yolande Arnold 44 (0) 1787 224040 e:

Dr Kausthub Desikachar, son of legendary yoga master TKV Desikachar

COVER: Lorena Kastner ( photographed for the cover of OM Yoga and Lifestyle magazine issue 66 by Luke Ayling ( The Publisher accepts no responsibility in respect of advertisements appearing in the magazine and the opinions expressed in editorial material or otherwise do not neccessarily represent the views of the Publisher. The Publisher cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the later appearance or non publication of any advertisement. Information about products and services featured within the editorial content does not imply an endorsement by OM Magazine. OM Magazine is not intended to replace the professional medical care, advice, diagnosis or treatment of a doctor, qualified therapist, nutritionist or dietician. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme. Every effort is made to ensure that all advertising is derived from reputable sources. OM Magazine cannot, however, accept responsibility for transactions between readers and advertisers.

insight from leading writers and thinkers such as Sadhguru (page 98), and (page 93). Whatever your level or ability on the mat - total newcomer or experienced yoga pro - there’s so much inside for everyone. Press the pause button, gang…it’s time for OM.

OM in 30 seconds “Downward Dog is an inversion and a forward fold, building strength in the shoulders, arms and wrists. The posture allows the spine to lengthen and opens the back of the legs and the front of the chest.” 360˚ Yoga (Page 42) “Yoga can also help overcome one of the challenges that every creative writer faces: finding your own voice. Practice yoga regularly and you begin to discover how asanas fit with your body.” Unleash your creativity (Page 54) “Teach what you believe but avoid being so entrenched in your beliefs that you are not open to change – because if you are dedicated to teaching for any considerable length of time you will change your mind at some point.” Clinging to beliefs (Page 144)

This month’s competition & subscription


Win 7 Night Yoga Holiday In India With Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village

See page 86


Subscribe today to OM Magazine and receive Perfect Aloe Vera capsules from Pure-Col Sport (worth £29.99)

See page 32


Contributors Vidya Heisel

Vidya has taught extensively worldwide for the last 40 years, and is passionate about yoga philosophy, having studied for many years at ashrams in India. She has created a comprehensive yoga teacher training (, which she has taught at retreat centres globally, and has certified several thousand yoga teachers. In 2011, she opened her own retreat centre, Suryalila, in southern Spain, where she currently resides and teaches most of her trainings.

Claudia Brown

Claudia is a yoga teacher based in Stafford. She has worked extensively with West Bromwich Albion Football Club first team, runs classes for corporate clients such as Staffordshire County Council and iProspect, and talks about the benefits of yoga to anyone who will listen. She is happily married to her Danish Prince, Jan, and likes eating chocolate and buying pretty shoes. Find her at:

David Holzer

David is an author, ghostwriter, performance poet, blogger and journalist who also writes for the business and non-profit worlds. Discovering the power of yoga to transform his own writing inspired David to study its specific benefits for writers and leading workshops in Mallorca, where he lives. Today, yoga is a fundamental part of David’s life as a working writer. He is dedicated to sharing his understanding and experience of both yoga and writing with his fellow writers.

Regular contributors: Siri Arti; Conscious Parenting Lesley Dawn; Life And Loves Paula Hines; Teacher’s Tales Meg Jackson; Real Life Yoga Victoria Jackson; OM Lite Jill Lawson; Meditation Of The Month Deb Mac; What’s Your Affirmation Andrew McGonigle; 360˚ with Doctor Yogi Sarah Swindlehurst; Yoga Therapy Charlotte Watts; De-stress: Yoga Off The Mat Julia White; Yoga & Aromatherapy


“The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” TKV Desikachar

Sleep with Pukka Win a golden yoga retreat with

at Ananda in the Himalayas, India yoga-retreat

Let organic herbs awaken your morning glow Discover more at

November 2016

OM Regulars 5

Editors Letter


My Secret Place




Yoga Changed My Life


Wings Of Desire


Classical Yoga


What’s Your Affirmation


Strictly Yoga


Yoga & Aromatherapy: Juniper Oil


Amazing Spaces

24 OM Loves: Beautiful Things For Beautiful People


Fashion: Dye Of The Tiger


Planet Yoga

145 OM Books: Great Yoga Reads 146 Yoga Is For Every Body: Your Photos. Your Community

162 OM Lite: Together Forever

OM Body Cover Story


Yoga At Home: Embodying The Warrior

Cover Story


OM Meets…Emily Clare-Hill


360˚ Yoga: OM’s Anatomy Academy

Cover Story

44 Rejuvenate Your Spine: Yoga Sequence

Contents 60 Finding Forgiveness: The Key To Health And Happiness

Cover Story


Yoga Therapy:


Yoga A-Z: Y Is For Yoga


OM FM Cover Story

66 The Men Of Yoga:

Celebrating Men On

The Mat


Man On The Mat: B-Boy Pose

OM Mind 70 Meditation Of The Month: Ascending To Old Age

72 Senior Yogis: Charity Yoga Transforming Lives

74 My Flow: A Verse Sharing The Magic Of Yoga

76 Staying Alive With Yoga: Battling The Darker Days

78 The Beauty Of Imperfection:

Allow The

Light In

80 A Mindful Life: Self-Taught Mindfulness Techniques

82 Taming Your Mind: Tame Those Voices In Your Head

84 Feel Great With Mindfulness: For Health, Energy & Happiness

88 Curb Those Cravings: De-Stress Yoga Off The Mat

48 The Real Language Of Yoga: What Yoga Teachers Really Mean

Cover Story

50 Yoga & Autism: Modern Neuroscience, Ancient Wisdom

54 Unleash Your Creativity: Yoga & Writing 56 You Can’t Beat A Retreat: Yoga Is Good For You

58 Humans & Yogis: Rising To The Challenge Through Yoga


OM Spirit 90

Trust The Process: Yoga-Inspired Artwork

92 Ancient Wisdom, Modern Healing: Dr Kausthub Desikachar

96 The Mantra Collection: Spiritual Artist Bhanu Palam

98 Finding Peace, Finding Joy: OM Interviews Sadhguru


98 34

Cover Story

100 Learning To Listen: At Nepal’s Kopan Monastery

104 What Are Gunas: Understanding Our Energies

106 Balancing The Chakras With Crystals: Crystal Healing

OM Living 108 Eat Drink Yoga: Healthy Eating Goodies Cover Story

110 Just Dough It: It’s Bake-Off Time

Cover Story

114 Nutrition Zone: Sleep Easy Natural Remedies 116 So Long Sugar Drinks: Healthier Alternatives 118 Eat Your Greens: The Power Of Powders

OM Family 120 Conscious Parenting: Creative Sparks 122 The Great Digital Detox: Managing The Digital Age


124 Pregnancy Strong: Navigate Pregnancy With Yoga Strength

OM Actions 128 A Splash Of Colour: Yoga Wall Murals 132 Conscious Chocolate: The Healthy Chocolate Movement

116 150

132 Tasting Sorrow: A Personal Journey Through Grief

OM Teacher Zone 136 Life & Loves Of A Yoga Teacher 138 The Language Of Love: Non-Violent Communication

140 Judge & Jury: Step Away From Judgement 142 Ahimsa & Veganism: The Natural Yoga Way

144 Teacher’s Tales: Clinging To Beliefs

OM Travel 148 OM Travel News: Awe Inspiring Retreats & Ideas For Yoga Explorers

150 Florida In The Flow: 7-Page Special Report 9

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My secret place Location Snowdonia National Park, Wales Yogi Michelle Parry Photo  Joe Taylor The photo shows Michelle Parry, a musician and music tutor from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. At 34, she suffers from a degenerative disease of the spine. She has been in pain for over 10 years and, in the last two years, has had three major spinal surgeries and been in and out of a wheelchair. This began after a car accident in her early 20s where she fractured her neck and lower back, and damaged the radial nerve in her left arm. She has tried every treatment and therapy possible: nerve shock treatment, massage, acupuncture, pain management, rheumatology, reflexology and osteopathy. Recently, she decided to try yoga and has since found an improvement in her pain levels. Although her back pain means she has struggled with many poses, she has seen a vast improvement in the short time she has been on the mat. She recently managed to walk the 10 miles and 1,000 feet up Mount Snowdon in Wales, stopping every 30 minutes to work on some simple yoga poses. She is not out of the woods yet, and still suffers daily with pain, but has been delighted to see improvements already through yoga.


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Guided Practices to Accompany the Book 100 Mindfulness Meditations

Neil Seligman Founder of The Conscious Professional

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Yoga brought a greater sense of peace and calm to Daniel Groom that he had not experienced before

NAME: Daniel Groom AGE: 39 OCCUPATION: Yoga therapist and teacher YOGA YEARS: 17+

Why did you start yoga

I started yoga through the suggestion of my parents who could see I was struggling with anxiety and worry due to accepting myself as gay. We decided to all go to a class together to act as moral support for each other. I found the classes physically challenging as I was pretty unfit at the time, however the relaxation period at the end was an experience I will never forget. I felt at peace with myself which was something I had not experienced ever.

How has yoga changed your life

Fundamentally, yoga has given me the ability to fully accept myself. It has helped me manage my anxiety issues and grow into a content and grounded person. My personal practice has evolved and changed with my personal development and I am fortunate for the guidance and support from some incredible teachers and students who have taught me so much.

Favourite yoga haunts

When I can get there: the Life Centre in Islington with my teacher Lisa Kaley Isley has to be my number one choice. Closely followed by anywhere yoga nidra is being offered with Uma Dinsmore Tuli.

Best yoga moment

It has to be the graduation ceremony of the Yoga Campus Yoga Therapy Diploma in February 2015. A culmination of 16 years self study and lots of hard work ended in a deep feeling of fulfilment and a satisfyingly emotional mess. A moment in my life I will never ever forget.

Anything else

I really do believe yoga should be made accessible to everyone regardless of age, sex, orientation, body shape, illnesses or conditions. I have made it my mission to encourage ‘Yoga for All’ classes at the various centres I work at. I am hosting Yoga for Anxiety, restorative yoga, yoga nidra and Yoga for All classes and courses in and around Essex to make sure as many people as possible get to experience yoga, as well as offering Yoga Therapy on a 1:1 basis. In the words of Krishnamachayra: “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”

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Wings of desire Yoga street art at its finest


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e love these impromptu yoga street art photos by Francesca Magnani ( She photographed her yoga teacher Dina Ivas ( after she spotted a pair of wings just outside one of the places where she teaches her hugely popular flow classes in New York. The wings were painted by LA-based artist Colette Miller (, who started creating her Wings Project in 2012, taking it around the globe. Her motivation is to remind humans that we are all angels of this world.

Magnani has been photographing the streets of New York for almost 20 years. “I love to see the constant change and how a simple step inside a frame by a stranger can change the mood in an image,” she says. “These wings are so ephemeral and yet they give so much inspiration to passersby. Stop in front of the scaffolding at any time and you will find a happy person giddily trying them on. We were all made to fly,” she says. To quote legendary designer Coco Chanel: “If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”

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Classical Yoga

Music as a meditation: celebrating the joys of classical music through yoga


or many people, classical music can be almost like a meditation. Whether it’s Mozart, Beethoven or more contemporary work you’re into, it’s a beautiful thing for both yogis and non-yogis alike. To celebrate the connection, BBC Radio 3 recently conducted a series of free outdoor yoga classes, set to live classical performances by top young musicians. The peaceful yet invigorating early morning one hour yoga sessions, set on the Southbank Centre’s Riverside Terrace, featured inspiring classical music to help participants connect with mind and body ahead of their day. The classes, which took place in October, formed part of a partnership between BBC Radio 3 and the Southbank Centre called Sound Frontiers - a series of live radio broadcasts and special events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Third Programme, the predecessor to BBC Radio 3. The two organisations joined together to celebrate seven decades of pioneering music and culture, with immersive live broadcasts, performances and interactive events – and, of course, yoga. A truly divine collaboration.


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AFFIRMATION? An affirmation for communication, connection and tuning in. By Deb Mac

BWY accredited school, Yoga Alliance UK registered school Yoga Alliance US registered school

Yoga Academy Teacher Training 2016–17

BWY accredited, Yoga Alliance UK and Yoga Alliance US registered teacher training course Commences in the UK on 14 October 2016, limited to 20 students

Yin & Yang Yoga Teacher Training & Study Immersion 27 January—25 February, 2017, Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand

Ongoing Training and Study Immersions

Options for CPD and Yoga Alliance US & UK 500 upgrade 50-hour immersion, 31 October—7 November, Santillán, Spain 20-hour immersion, 25—27 November, Bore Place, UK 50-hour immersion, 11—18 March, Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand 20-hour immersion, 21—23 April, Bore Place, UK

“I am willing to listen more to what is really being said” theyogaacademy YogaAcademyUK yogaacademyuk



It’s so easy to jump to conclusions. So often we interpret what is going on by reading between the lines and coming up with our own story. Do we ever ever really know what’s going on with another person? We may think we know, but never believe everything that you think communication is key. Take the time to listen to what’s really being said. Listen with your ears. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your heart - always listen with your heart. Never assume. Observe, listen and love...always love. Let’s not lose the art of real communication.

yoga with


simon low

By Deb Mac (



10—13 November: Triyoga Chelsea, London

7—14 January: Samahita Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand


14—21 January: Praiwan Rafthouse, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

7—10 October: Kamalaya, Thailand 21—23 October: Bore Place, Kent 2—5 December: Kamalaya, Thailand 28—30 April: Bore Place, Kent

14–21 May: Santillán, Spain

Retreats, weekends and workshops 2016/2017

26 June – 3 July: Huzur Vadisi, Turkey 8–15 July: Santillán, Spain simonlowuk yogawithsimonlow yogasimonlow


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Photo: BBC/Guy Levy

Lesley with her dancing partner, Anton du Beke

Strictly yoga


Strictly star Lesley Joseph keeps on her toes with yoga

ne of the stars of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show this year, Lesley Joseph, is a big yoga fan, it has emerged. The oldest contestant this year at the age of 70, she says she has used yoga to stay trim and to prepare for the gruelling physicality of the dance show, which also includes Olympic athletes and other celebrities. “I’ve been trying to do lots of cardio stuff so I am walking everywhere, plus doing exercise classes and yoga classes as much as I can and trying to lose weight…but I am failing in that so far!” Although she admits she’s now “reasonably fit” one of the big challenges has been the training and day-to-activity given her age. “I’m not 21, I’m not 31 or 41 so I think as far as that’s concerned that will


probably be the biggest challenge. I want to be able to pace myself and not absolutely exhaust myself before I get to Saturday night,” she said. Joseph first became known to millions of households for her role in the popular TV sitcom Birds of a Feather, where she played Dorien, a middle-aged married woman constantly having affairs with younger men. But she’s loved every bit of the Strictly experience. The show’s first episode was aired in late September with the final scheduled to be held in Blackpool in December. “I wanted to take part because I can’t not do it! I love the glamour, I love the spray tans, I love the big hair, I love the make-up – and I want to learn to dance properly. I just want the whole experience.”

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Yoga & Aromatherapy Juniper Oil (Juniperus Communis)

November means that winter is hovering around the corner, so to help lift and rejuvenate you, use juniper oil (juniperus communis). It’s the perfect essential oil for boosting the immune system and increasing circulation, which can become sluggish now. Add 3 drops of juniper oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil and massage well into the body and any sore joints. Alternatively, add a couple of drops of juniper to a cup of milk, mix and place in a hot bath. Sit back in the bath and relax for 20 minutes to help reduce any joint inflammation. This is good after a strong yoga session to relax the muscles or at the end of the day, as juniper is a brilliant oil for easing tension and stress. If coughs and colds are starting to appear, add 3 -5 drops of juniper oil into a diffuser in your yoga studio or bedroom and the antiseptic properties will help eliminate congestion and germs. Juniper is also a wonderful cleansing and purifying oil; add a couple of drops to some distilled water and spray around your room or studio to clear away any negativity and cleanse the space. It is perfect for meditation as it helps centre you and aids concentration. Add a couple of drops of juniper to your diffuser before meditation to completely purify the mind and bring you closer to wisdom and tranquility. Do not use during pregnancy or if you have kidney problems.

By Julia White (

yoga | meditation ayurveda | wellbeing

( 01248 602900

Dru is a not-for-profit social enterprise, dedicated to transforming the world by giving people the tools to transform themselves.

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Amazing spaces Stylish and inspiring studio design ideas and interiors Unity 130a Lewes Road Brighton BN2 3LG Unity Studio is a beautiful centre dedicated to yoga, therapies, bodywork, healing and dance. Just 15 minutes from central Brighton, it offers a full weekly timetable of classes, as well as workshops and guest trainings, all in a clean, nurturing space. The colours have been chosen to enhance a feeling of deep relaxation and rejuvenation, and the décor aims to create a private haven where students feel safe to relax, release and revive. The Unity Studio idea is to create a ‘hub’, an exciting community which supports awareness and spiritual growth, in an accessible and down to earth way. The goal is to keep classes as reasonably priced as possible in order to make yoga and healing available to as many people as possible. As well as great yoga, it offers various holistic treatments, from oil massage to reiki, plus drop-in multi-bed clinics to serve those who need bodywork and healing sessions. With all these services under one roof, it’s a place where people can gather together to eat, learn, relax and get inspired. There are also community events such as sharing circles, ritual and ceremonial groups, conscious film nights, talks, live music and performance. Unity Studio is for everyone.


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loves Y

Beautiful things for beautiful people

The Way of the Five Seasons - £19.99

In this book, The Way of the Five Seasons: Living with the Five Elements for Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Harmony, author John Kirkwood offers readers a guide to living in harmony in the Chinese wisdom tradition way. He explores the connections between the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual levels of human experience.

Bump, Baby and Beyond DVD - £22.99

A DVD boxset offering a complete programme of pregnancy and postnatal yoga with Tara Lee. The DVDs will guide you through pregnancy and prepare you for birth and the early stages of life with a baby. Tara Lee has sold over 100,000 DVDs worldwide. (10% off with discount code omyoga20)

Fast Dry Yoga & Active Towels - £14.99

You’re off to the beach, travelling abroad, flexing some morning yoga, visiting a festival, off surfing or heading to the gym. How bulky is that cotton towel? Dock & Bay towels combine all the best features of a yoga, beach or travel towel to create an awesome high-end product that’s lightweight, quick dry and stylish.Comes in two sizes and six different colours.

Personalised Skeleton Anatomy Print - £19

Get a fresh perspective on your anatomy skills. This bespoke illustrative style anatomical skeleton print lists the best parts of your character instead of your body parts. Available with two choices of background (canvas or parchment) and in three different fonts.

Keepers of the Light Oracle Cards - £13.99

The new Keepers of the Light oracle card deck from author and yoga teacher Kyle Gray. Designed to help spiritual seekers to develop their intuition and to really start trusting the messages that spirit shares. Each card beautifully hand drawn by visionary artist Lily Moses.


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ToeSox Grip Socks - £10.49

ToeSox Half Toe Low Rise Grip Sock in ‘Nightlife’. How low can you go? ToeSox grip socks are perfect for all barefoot activities like barre, Pilates, yoga and dance. Made with organic cotton.

Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller - £99.00

Pulseroll is a Vibrating Foam Roller, C that’s ideal for yoga enthusiasts. M Designed with the latest technology, it combines pressure and vibration, helpingY improve flexibility and elasticity. CM Weighing only 1 kilo and with a 3 hour MY rechargeable battery it massages CY and warms muscles allowing deeper penetration, bringing pain relief CMY For 20% discount use omyoga20 K on checkout


Spire Wearable App- £119.95

A wearable device that tracks breathing patterns to increase mindfulness, now available in Apple stores across Europe. The small, easy-to-wear, stone-like device measures breathing to gain insight into the users’ state of mind and guides them to greater calm, energy and focus throughout the day.


T: ( + 4 4 ) 2 0 3 6 2 1 4 3 8 8 T H E Y O G A W E L L N E S S C O M PA N Y. C O M

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Dye Tiger of the

Yoga, dance and fitness…every day. We’re loving this amazing new yoga wear from Tiger Lilly. Lush fabrics and vibrant colours that are great for all yoga styles or workouts

Eco-Friendly Leggings - Sun Salutations, £54

Eco-Friendly Leggings - Star Peacock, £54


Eco-Friendly Leggings - Siba’s Mandala, £54

om beginnings Eco-Friendly Leggings - Star Peacock, £54; Black Strappy Bra Top, £28

Eco-Friendly Leggings - Sun Salutations, £54

Eco-Friendly Leggings - Sun Salutations, Buddha Kalaidascope, Siba’s Mandala, £54

Eco-Friendly Leggings - Buddha Kaleidoscope, £54 Flowy Long Sleeve - White Peace Top, £38 Flowy Long Sleeve Black - Om Mani Padme Hum, £38


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Photographer: Will Sanders Photography Yoginis: Kathy Ran, Aimee Garcia-Marshall, Millie DaCosta and Liv Townsend


Nature’s Best Yoga Mat

Austin Keen Lives: Planet Earth World Champion Skimboarder Yoga Philosophy: I practice anywhere and everywhere Mat: Jade

Official European Distribution by YOYOGA AG Visit us at Made in the U.S.A


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Planet yoga Stories from around the weird and wonderful world of yoga




Yoga behind bars

Yoga Behind Bars (YBB) has commenced its first teacher training programme for females. Fourteen women at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, Washington, are now undertaking an intensive seven-month training with the charity to become trauma-informed yoga instructors. Each of of the new instructors will go on to teach incarcerated women like themselves. It follows a successful teacher training for men at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, the first of its kind in Washington State. “We firmly believe in giving people in prison tools to support their own growth and transformation,” said YBB’s executive director Rosa Vissers.


No kidding

The latest weird yoga craze from the USA is yoga with goats. You’ve got to be kidding! No, we’re not. A farm in Oregon is now offering al fresco classes as goats wander among yoga fans. Farm owner Lainey Morse believes the animals can help provide therapy to stressed participants. As the students perform down dog and other poses the creatures simply wander around the humans. “It may sound silly but it’s really just about getting outside in nature with beautiful scenery and having animals around you,” Morse told Reuters in an interview. “Animals can really help humans with stress and illness or grief”, she added.

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Yes, it’s true: the little green army men are back. San Francisco art director Dan Abramson created Yoga Joes - toy army figures in traditional yoga poses - a few years ago as a bit of fun, but he didn’t count on their global popularity. Now, after securing crowdfinancing, he’s rolling out a new brigade of warriors. “I made Yoga Joes in the spirit of getting more people to try yoga,”Abramson wrote on his Kickstarter page. This time, however, the figures have graduated to more advanced yoga postures such as side plank, peacock and lotus headstand. “The Advanced Yoga Joes represent perhaps the greatest display of flexibility ever molded into rigid ABS plastic,” he added.

Education, education…and meditation

There are a lot of people calling for meditation to be taught routinely at schools in the UK nowadays, but when a government minister says it then it’s time to take it seriously. Edward Timpson, an education minister, recently said that schools should start teaching “mindfulness” as a “normal part of the school day”. Speaking during a debate in Parliament, he warned that “children cannot unplug from their online world, and that is changing the shape of many of their relationships and the pressures that they come under at a much more tender age”. We say bring it on…let’s start today!


Forbidden City

Athleisure-wear giant Lululemon is prowling the China market. The world’s most populous country, with over a billion people, is also now one of the fastest growing yoga markets with studios popping up all over Beijing and other major cities. Yoga has been embraced by millions of Chinese as a complement to traditional activities such as Tai Chi. The Vancouver-based yoga wear firm recently put on a huge class outside the iconic Forbidden City as it seeks to roll out the brand to eager Chinese consumers. After enjoying huge success in the North American market, Lululemon has been aggressively targeting international markets including the UK.

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Embodying The Warrior YOGA @ HOME

A sequence for empowerment. Release tension from your whole body and rediscover your inner power with this bold, brave and beautiful flow from Liz Lark



Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)

Start in a kneeling position with big toes together and heels apart. Lower the hips onto the inside surface of the feet. Place the hands on the thighs with the palms up and the fingertips facing each other. Begin to roll the shoulders, inhaling deeply as they rise and exhaling as they sink. Continue to link the breath to the movement as you roll the shoulders 5 times in each direction.


Ancestor Worship Vinyasa - Part 2

Raised Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Exhale, fold forwards into child’s pose. Lift the hips and clasp the hands behind the back. Continue to exhale as you fold forward and lift the arms high over the head. This is a deep compression so go easy as the back body opens. Inhale, elevate hips and arms, stretching chest. Exhale, return to resting child’s pose.

Repeat the Ancestor Worship Vinyasa x 3 34

Ancestor Worship Vinyasa - Part 1

High Kneeling Pose (Utthita Vajrasana)

Begin to inhale and stand up on the knees. Reach up with the arms to greet the sky and enjoy the thoracic extension as you complete the inhale.


Cat Pose (Majaryasana)

Move onto all fours. On an inhale, dip the spine while raising the head so the back becomes concave. As you exhale, lower the head and arch the spine. Repeat 3-5 times as you articulate the spine and prepare for the next pose.

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Gate Pose - Part 1 (Parighasana)

From your kneeling position, stretch the right leg out to the side and on an inhale take the left arm up above the head. Exhale to the right, extending the side flank. Allow the right arm to ease down the right leg.


Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)

Exhale into a downward dog. Extend all sides of the spine in this semiinversion and enjoy the ‘brain bath’. Ground the hands and feet into the floor as you melt between the shoulder blades, lift the hips high and gaze between the feet.



Gate Pose - Part 2 (Parighasana)

On an inhale sweep the arms in a rainbow shape to the opposite side. The left arm comes down to the floor for balance and the right arm stretches up and over the head.


High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Inhale as you step the right foot forward into a deep lunge. Keeping the hands on the floor for stability, lift the heart skywards, sink into the hips and prepare to transition into the next pose.

Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)

Swivel the back foot inwards 45 degrees. Grounding through four corners of both feet rise up into Warrior 2. The front shin is vertical and the knee bends at 90 degrees. The back leg is straight with the outside edge of the foot pressing into the floor as the hips open to the side. The arms stretch out at shoulder height, parallel to the ground with the palms facing down. Gaze over the front fingertips and keep the body upright. Embody steadiness as you hold this pose for 3 - 5 breaths, stretching further on each in breath and grounding deeper on each exhale.

Continue sequence over page >> 35

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Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

On an inhale, turn the front palm to face upwards and lean out over the front leg. Keeping the feet and legs in Warrior 2, exhale as the front arm rises up and backwards over the head and the back hand slips down the back leg. Hold for 3 - 5 breaths remembering you can use the breath to pulse in and out of the pose.


Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)

Sweep the front arm over your head on an inhale and place forearm firmly on front thigh. Complete the inhale as the top arm extends above the head or even hooking behind the back. Exhale and press into the straight back leg with the outside edge of the foot pressing into the floor. Breathe and stabilise.


Half Moon Balance Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Celebrate the warrior qualities of strength, balance, steadiness and rooting in this peak pose. From the side angle pose exhale as you begin to straighten the front leg and place the front hand on the floor below the shoulder. Begin to raise the back leg up on an inhale as the top arm stretches skywards. Find a point of focus for the eyes, take 3 - 5 breaths.

Horse Pose

Exhale down into a wide legged stance turning the toes out. On your next exhale, bend the knees so they track over the toes and bring the hands into prayer position. Keep the pelvis neutral and lengthen the spine skywards. Breathe into this anchor pose to deepen stability and build heat in the legs.


Visit the website:


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Counter-pose: Wide Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Remain in the wide legged stance but now square the feet to each other. Exhale to fold forward and down, bending the knees as much as necessary to place the hands on the floor between the feet. Use the inhale to extend the spine and the exhale to fold forward, straightening the legs as much as possible and moving the crown of the head towards the floor. Take 3 - 5 breaths as you move into the depth of the pose.



Yielding Vinyasa, Side To Side

Come out of the forward fold on an inhale then exhale to one side, bending the right knee into a deep squat and stretching the left leg out to the side. Use the hands for balance as you move from side to side, deepening the grounding leg work as you move and prepare for the other side. When you feel ready, swivel into downward dog then kneel down ready for the other side.

Now return to Cat Pose and repeat the sequence on the other side.

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Conclude with seated breathing. Place your hands in prayer position, namaste, at the heart and take a bow to yourself and to your practice. You may like to use the affirmation: Conscious Breathing Is My Anchor.

More Liz: Longer Warrior Flows with Liz on: Live Liz: For Rainbow Warrior Workshops in London and worldwide retreats see:

Yogi: Liz Lark ( Video courtesy of: Movement For Modern Life ( Visit the website for more online yoga classes from the best teachers


Photos: Michael James Wong, Lululemon

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OM meets...

Emily-Clare Hill London-based yoga teacher Emily-Clare Hill appeared on the front cover of OM in March 2016, six months after our photoshoot competition at the OM Yoga Show in London. Here she tells us her yoga story

How did you first get into yoga My passion for movement has been present from a young age, always being involved in sports and dancing in some way, shape or form. I fell in love with dance, in particular, and this is what brought me to London; for me, dance was a meditation in itself, an escape, a journey of being free of all barriers and insecurities, a chance to express everything through my body. Once I began taking dance seriously as a possible career I seemed to lose that freedom that it had once given me. This is when I found the magical practice of yoga and began to find that same meditation space within the movement again. It was the complete polar opposite of the industry that came with dancing. Suddenly I was allowed to look and feel however I wished on that day. My body and posture didn’t need to be perfect or look like everyone else’s. I was free to be my own person when I was on the mat; this drew me in, deeper and deeper, to learning more and more about yoga.

Any favourite studios I was a Shoreditch girl back in the day and would practice in the comfort of my little gym studio, which is no longer around. Now I practice in all spaces. I love the variety we now have in London, with each studio holding its own piece of magic. I also have built my own little haven of a studio – Mudra Yoga London – in Stoke Newington.

What inspired you in those early days It was intrigue more than anything else. The freedom to be me was something I had been denied for a long while and I was so liberated by this that I wanted to know more.

How would you describe your own teaching style The journey of a teacher is always changing and growing, and this is where I’m currently at – I offer a fun dynamic creative practice with fluid, mindful technique, a lot of love and a little banter. I bring in

Any transformational yoga moments I’d have to say my first teacher training. Wow, had I bitten off more than I could chew! Always one to rise to a challenge I battled my way through the first week and started to settle in. There were huge highs, huge lows and friends for life were made. It’s an indescribable immersion of yoga and philosophy, questioning everything you thought you knew and being surrounded by so many like minded interesting beings all wanting to question the same things.


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In November 2015, Emily-Clare Hill won the first Face of OM photoshoot competition at the OM Yoga Show in London. It meant appearing on the front cover of OM magazine (in March 2016). Here she tells us how she felt about it all HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT WINNING THE COMPETITION Wow, it was a shock! I had a phone call and I thought my friend had put me forward for something. At first I totally didn’t realise I’d won the cover girl. I was so excited! HOW DID IT FEEL TO SEE YOURSELF ON THE OM COVER Very strange…I barely recognised myself. But super proud…if not a little overwhelmed.

intelligence and balance through my knowledge of anatomy allowing me to weave together a creative sequence that will leave you feeling inspired, fearless and ready for whatever may arise. I theme classes around an inspirational topic to offer an intention for practice... supported by the breath. I always encourage a mindful, conscious practice of being in the moment. How do you want people to feel after class Happy - isn’t this the goal for all? Yes, my aim is happy, balanced, challenged, alive! Unless it’s a yin or restorative practice then you can totally waltz on out feeling a little too Zen and my job is done. What are your own plans going forward What a question! I’m the queen of new projects! I’d like to say my next thing is to slow it down a little but I’m not quite there yet. As I mentioned I already have my own studio space that is still growing and I’d love to continue to build that magical community. I love travel and

“I theme classes around an inspirational topic to offer an intention for practice...supported by the breath. I always encourage a mindful, conscious practice of being in the moment.” 40

would love to offer more retreats to places I haven’t been to before. I’m also creating more training courses for current yoga teachers. I host a project called Sunday School Yoga (, it’s a wonderful gathering of new yoga teachers offering them continued learning and a community of support. It’s something I’m very passionate about and plan to travel with this project over 2017 and beyond. How would you reassure someone new to yoga We were all new once. This is your mantra as a first timer. Just stay humble, stay light on yourself and come back. I trust yoga to sell itself. At first, we’ll feel good on leaving the mat; we may not know why but we’ll return because something felt good. Just return enough so that you don’t forget that feeling. Get on the mat and the magic will follow. What do you do when you’re not doing yoga Ha ha! I’m always doing yoga! Just kidding. I love stepping out of the city to reset with a country walk and lunch. I love movies and I’m definitely a pub and mates kind of girl. Any personal motto My mantra of always is, “once you stop learning, you stop living”. Stay open minded, stay curious about everything.

To find out more about Emily-Clare Hill visit: or visit her studio site at:

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om body presents...

360Ëš yoga with

Doctor yogi

Detailed alignment cues for Downward Facing Dog:

An overview of...

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

One of the most recognised yoga asana, Downward Facing Dog is more complicated to practice than it may first appear.


ENGAGE YOUR SHOULDERS Externally rotate your shoulder joints l Gently rotate your upper, outer arms towards the ground so that your armpits begin to turn in towards one another Engage your shoulder blades l Draw your shoulder blades away from your ears and onto to the back of your ribcage l Draw your shoulder blades apart and feel the back of your chest broaden

he asana is an inversion and a forward fold, building strength in the shoulders, arms and wrists. The posture allows the spine to lengthen and opens the back of the legs and the front of the chest. Downward Facing Dog has a grounding and introspective quality to it.

FIRM YOUR LEGS l Lengthen your heels towards the ground l Gently draw your knee caps up but keep a microbend in your knees to prevent you from locking your knee joints l Step your feet hip distance apart and parallel

GROUND YOUR HANDS l Place your hands so that they are shoulder-width apart l Spread your fingers with your index fingers parallel to one another l Gently draw your thumbs towards your index fingers just a millimetre to create a subtle lifting of the centre of each palm

FIRM YOUR ARMS l Starting with a gentle bend in your elbows imagine that you are drawing your hands towards one another and then straighten your elbows l This will make your arms active without causing you to hyperextend/ lock your elbows


om body The benefits of Downward Facing Dog

l T he asana allows your spine to lengthen, increasing the health of your intervertebral discs l D ownward Facing Dog strengthens your shoulders, arms and wrists l I t lengthens the hamstrings and calf muscles at the back of your legs l D ownward Facing Dog puts healthy stress on our bones helping to prevent osteoporosis l S upported versions of Downward Facing Dog can help to lower blood pressure l T he asana is introspective in nature allowing your mind to quieten l D ownward Facing Dog has a grounding quality to it and allows you to develop your focus and concentration


l I t is suggested that Downward Facing Dog may not be an appropriate asana to practice if you have carpel tunnel syndrome, untreated high blood pressure, migraine/headache or are pregnant.

FIND A NEUTRAL NECK l Ideally your head is in line with the rest of your spine l Gently slide the sides of your throat back and then lower your chin a couple of millimetres towards your chest and feel the back of your neck lengthen


Here are some variations of Downward Facing Dog that you may have come across: l I f you have tight shoulders or a natural bow in your arms you have the option to place your hands wider than shoulder-width l Y  ou can also step your feet wider than hip distance to gain more of a stretch in your inner thigh and inner hamstring muscles l I f your lower back tends to round in Downward Facing Dog bend your knees deeply to allow your spine to lengthen l S upport your hands on a chair or against a wall to encourage more length in your spine and take pressure off your wrists or shoulders l I yengar teachers like to use ropes to encourage the thigh bones to draw back and inner groins to release l T  o remove pressure from your upper body, lower your shin bones to the ground with your thighs vertical and reach your arms forward l P racticing this asana with your heels against a wall will allow you to reach your sit bones higher l A more restorative version of the asana is to rest your forehead on bolster or a pile of stacked blankets

FIND AN ANTERIOR TILT IN YOUR PELVIS l Fold forward at your hip joints and not with your lower back l Roll your upper, inner thighs back to soften your inner groins and create space at the back of your pelvis l Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your lower abdomen up and in towards your spine l Reach your sitting bones up and back to allow your lower back to lengthen

FIND A NEUTRAL CHEST l Lengthen through all four sides of your waist to create more space between your hip bones and your lower ribs l Soften your front, lower ribs towards your spine and breathe into your back lower ribs to create space in the back of your chest l Keeping this space, widen across your collar bones (clavicles) to stabilise this space

Andrew McGonigle is Doctor Yogi, a medically trained yoga teacher based in London who specialises in teaching anatomy applied to yoga. Visit

For the full, exclusive 360° detailed and interactive version download our App now 43

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REJUVENATE YOUR SPINE Wake up and rejuvenate your spine in this dynamic sequence by MacKenzie Miller 1

Downward Facing Dog

Come into downward facing dog pose. Press your hands firmly into the floor and roll the outer upper arms down. Ground the feet into the floor and press the tops of your thighs back. Create length in the spine and the sides of the neck and take three long, deep breaths.


Gentle Twist In Low Lunge

Place your left hand down and keep your right arm up, turning the palm to face away from your face and twist to the right, taking the gaze upwards if it feels okay on your neck. Try to draw the right hip back and keep length in the spine as you twist. Watch that the left shoulder doesn’t creep towards your left ear!



Low Lunge

Step the right foot forward towards your right thumb and make sure the knee is stacked above the ankle. Sink the hips a little, coming into a low lunge, with the top of the left knee on the floor. Raise your arms above your head. Try to draw your belly away from your right thigh, soften your shoulders and lift your sternum.



Take the feet out wide and point the toes diagonally outwards towards the edges of your mat. Bend the knees well, making sure they follow the line of your toes and stretch out your arms. Draw your belly in, feel heaviness in the tailbone and lightness and openness in the chest.

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Twisted Horse To Left

Place your hands on the top of your thighs with the fingers facing away from you. Twist towards the left aiming your right shoulder towards your left inner thigh. Try and keep your knees from falling inwards and your upper back from rounding.


Wide Legged Forward Fold

Point all 10 toes forward and come into a wide legged forward fold. If your hands are flat on the floor, draw them back so you create a ‘shelf’ with the elbows. Otherwise, place your hands on blocks. Try to maintain length in the spine and between the neck and shoulders.


Twisted Horse To Right Repeat, twisting towards the right.



Turn all 10 toes towards the front of the mat and come into a lunge with the left knee lifted and the hands flat on the floor or on blocks. Press the front of the left thigh back and create length between the crown of the head and the left heel.

Sequence continues >> 45

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Step the right foot back to meet the left, coming into plank pose. Press your palms energetically into the floor and keep the chin from dropping, so the back of the neck stays in line with the spine. Draw the belly in and up and keep the tailbone lengthening towards the heels. Press the tops of the thighs back and lengthen from the crown of the head to the heels.


Downward Facing Dog

Press up and back into downward facing dog pose.


Spine rolls

From downward facing dog, come up high onto the balls of the feet. Suck your belly in and up and begin to wave the body forwards, as if you’re rolling over a big beach ball, eventually arriving in plank pose. From plank, engage the belly again and lift your hips up and back into downward facing dog.


From downward dog repeat sequence on opposite leg. You can find more yoga sequences, yoga and meditation videos, plus guided programmes and articles on



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The REAL language of yoga What yoga teachers say versus what we actually mean. By Meg Jackson


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f a person is going to be a teacher of anything then being able to communicate what you mean is, you’d expect, lesson one in teacher training. And when you’re teaching something (like yoga) that has the potential to get someone into A&E, or at least with a bit of their anatomy somewhere it shouldn’t naturally be, you’d expect it to be an absolute necessity. If you’ve ever been in a yoga class, you’ll know it’s not always like that. Us yoga teachers have an annoying habit of saying things so…. well…perplexing, that you’d be forgiven for asking for us to turn on the subtitles. But there’s a reason. So here’s a quick introduction to some of the things you might hear us saying, and what we might mean…

“Move mindfully into your wide-legged forward fold…” The key part of this is ‘mindfully’. That’s because you’re packed into the room like sardines, and are all facing the long side of your mat with your legs wide apart. We need you to fold forward at the hips and get your head down towards the floor, but if you’re not careful your nose is going to nestle in the butt-crack of the person in front of you. And, just as important, lifting up out of it too quickly could mean the back of your head gets very closely acquainted with someone’s perineum. Aaah yoga – it really is all about the glamour.

“Softly focus your gaze on…”

Each pose has its own gazing point. We call it the ‘drishti’ and it’s there to help you move safely into the pose, find balance, and maintain attention on what you’re doing. When we see your eyeballs bounding around the room like pinballs we know you’re likely to hurt yourself. When we see you scowling at the woman in front of you we know you’re thinking more about the fact she took your spot. When we see you staring into the middle distance with more venom than Medusa with PMT we know you’re trying too hard. So stop it.

“Check in with your breath…”

We say it ‘til we’re (ironically) blue in the face – breath is quite possibly the most important element of what you’re doing on a sticky mat. It’s the very best way of monitoring what’s going on inside your body and your mind. Let’s face it, if you stop doing it things will rarely end well. So when we ask you to enquire what’s going on with your breath, it’s normally because we haven’t heard anyone inhale or exhale for quite a long time and we’re getting a bit scared about our potential insurance claims. (“So, Miss Jackson, you’re saying they all died because they just ‘forgot’ to breathe?”….*shudder*.)

“As you move into the pose, remember that yoga is not a competition…”

Yoga will absolutely require you to occasionally move out of your comfort zone – that is, fundamentally what will get you to the ‘a ha!’ moments we’re all hoping for. But when we see the veins in your forehead bulging, the gnashing of teeth, the thinning of lips, the spluttering breathing that sounds like a hippo in the bath, as you try and force your poor body into a pose it is not capable (and possibly not designed) to do, we know that there may be a bit of ego going on. So stop it. Back off before something snaps…and we don’t mean your sports bra. Meg Jackson is founder of Real Life Yoga – a movement to get people to bring a little (or a lot) of yoga into their real lives. Find out more at:

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Yo’tism is a training school, founder of a unique neuro-sensory yoga method for individuals with Autism and other related developmental differences Our next 3 day training courses are:

Foundation Courses: 18th-20th November 2016 27th-29th January 2017 7th-9th April 2017 26th-28th May 2017

Specialist Courses

5th-6th November (1 day) Autism plus and Reflex Yoga 11th December 2016 (1 day) Emotions and Behavioural Management 25th February 2017 (1 day) Communications Contact: or 07799532836 to sign up www.facebook/yotism @yo_tism “The excellence of teaching and fluidity was most comprehensive. Course overall was brilliant, welcoming and structured. Great.” Psychologist

YOGA & AUTISM Introducing Yo’tism: fusing modern neuroscience with ancient yoga wisdom for empowerment and wellbeing in people with autism and other development differences. By Dr Angela Brew


o’tism: neuro­ sensory yoga… what is it, and why do it? In the summer of 2015, at Santosa Yoga and Bhakti Camp, I heard David Ellams, a liberated Aspie (a name give to a person with Asperger’s syndrome), given an incredible speech at the campfire about how yoga had saved his life. This is what he said: “Yoga works for me in such an amazing way; it really helps me to stay calm, centred and grounded. When I finally discovered yoga, it really helped with my symptoms, I felt amazing after just one session. The more I did, the better I felt. Each time I did a session my ASD symptoms faded more and more until they were barely present at all. To the point

where I sometimes would forget I was on the spectrum and that I was any different to anyone else.” The yoga sessions he alluded to were run by Veronika Pena de la Jara, who was developing novel ways of working with people on the autistic spectrum. At the same time, her colleague and friend Nicole Zimbler was also working on similar challenges. Through their passion, commitment and long term collaboration, they developed a new and powerful method of yoga, designed to enhance the lives of those with ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) symptoms. Inspired by all of these people, I enrolled on a Yo’tism foundation course this year. I run a similar programme teaching drawing,

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combining experiential and neuroscientific knowledge. I was curious to see how their methods might relate to my own drawing teaching, but my main interest was theoretical; I hoped to learn about non verbal communication, and to consider how the practices of Yo’tism might be useful for dementia and stroke patients.

The history of Yo’tism

Yo’tism’s neuro­ sensory yoga takes inspiration and influence from a yoga method developed by Sonia Sumer and Jo Manuel at the Special Yoga Centre in London. With this underpinning - and the wealth of diverse knowledgeable expertise of three yoga teachers - Yo’tism is an excellent specialist training school for anyone working with children and adults dealing with ASC. The Yo’tism family - Nicole Zimbler, Veronika Pena de La Jara and Sarah Hopwood - share their skills from long careers in yoga teaching, Autism Specialist

Developmental Integrative Therapy, education and teaching for the hearing impaired. Head trainer, Nicole Zimbler, has a background in therapeutic work for children, adults and families with developmental differences and a passion for neuroscience. By observing and studying how the nervous system and neural connections in these people work she realised that yoga, specially tailored to build up connections between the body and brain, senses and experience, nervous system and mind, can be a powerful thing for many, profoundly affecting communication and holistic development. Thus began the fusion of intense scientific research with yoga, and the birth of Yo’tism. Today, it is a powerful, profound and practical technique, fusing together modern scientific understanding of neurosensory systems with the ancient healing art of yoga. Yoga introduces a deep sense of body awareness, mindfulness, and sensory organisation and can gently reset the

nervous system to create a shift from anxiety to a feeling of internal safety and coping. The sensory system is given space to process, the muscles slowly come out of a contracted state, and attention is brought to the quiet self. This facilitates a shift from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’.

How it helps

This ground breaking and specific form of yoga targets the neuro­ sensory processing system in a number of ways. Firstly, it creates a safe, fully met and accepted environment to work in. From this secure point of contact, people can create a body-mind connection through a range of mapping movements, along with breath, to bring all the neural motor­coordination pathways ‘online’. This is needed to ground practice, because when the neuro­ sensory system becomes disrupted (­ as it so often does with symptoms of differences like ASD, ADHD, post ­ traumatic stress, dementia,


om body mental health issues and other learning or developmental conditions),­a range of sensory and motor experiences can be involved: ­ n n ­ ­ n ­ ­ n ­ ­ n ­ n ­ n ­ ­ n ­ n ­ n ­ ­

Heightened alertness Sensory processing difficulties Lack of body awareness Disorganisation Fight, flight or fright responses Anxiety Systemic dysregulation Lack of coordination and muscle tone ­ Compulsive behaviours Low self­-esteem

Yoga for all


Yo’tism’s goal is to offer yoga, natural therapies, support and heartfelt awareness to every child or adult on the autism spectrum, so that they can access the tools that help to heal and unlock their full potential. Yo’tism uses the standard five limbs of yoga: chanting, breathing (pranayama), postures (asanas), relaxation (savasana) and meditation. Yo’tism yoga brings these to the person in a modified therapeutic body­ brain integration - a neuro­ sensory sequence that improves their abilities and attention levels. Crucially, Yo’tism offers safe structured sessions to meet the direct needs of each person. There is a range of preparatory exercises which neurologically prime the individual to stay engaged and attentive throughout a session. Next, a range of body awareness, sensory integration and postural exercises are taught that tune into the root of each individual’s processing system. Yo’tism integrates theory and practice into a model that helps individuals experience an optimum relaxed state. It equips individuals with internal control and calm, through relaxation, self­ -awareness and positive internal dialogue, so that they become better able to interact with others and the environment around them without stress. From this calm and secure base, specifically designed mindfulness practices can be introduced. By creating a positive sense of self, which is the core of any bodywork or psychological therapy, and through effective delivery and regular intervention, individuals can reach a parasympathetic state where the body can digest food better, produce the necessary coping hormones and reach an optimum immune state. Yo’tism takes into consideration each detail of neurological development and how to access it therapeutically from the core; focusing on incorporating the reflex system into the yoga. The primitive reflex system is a core part of our development and tends to be underdeveloped in individuals with ASC. Our reflex system can thrive, integrate and reset when introduced to a soothing set of rhythmic movements and specifically coordinated and timed positions. Yo’tism realises that the reflex system can also become unintegrated due to trauma and post traumatic stress, and hence there are non ASC training workshops for yoga teachers interested in using Yo’tism’s therapeutic methods in other settings and populations.

The core principle of yoga is to help us achieve our highest potential and to experience enduring health and happiness. The method begins by working with the structural body; breath; inter-­ hemispheric mind; gross and fine motor­coordination system; calming the inner working of the sensory system; perception and spiritual expressive psyche. This helps bring us into a healthier state of homeostasis. At the same time, internal organs are toned and rejuvenated, the digestive system, epidermal, lymphatic, cardiovascular, blood, cells, water and endocrine system are stimulated to enhance the release of toxins and waste products. The nervous system and brain cells are nourished and mental clarity, communication and spiritual connection increased. Yo’tism is about bringing yoga to everyone and making it accessible no matter what their neurological difference may be. The effects of yoga are powerful and profound in helping both children and adults on the autistic spectrum. A regular, repetitive practice can change the life of someone with ASD by helping them reach new levels of regularity, balance, concentration, clarity, inner understanding, expression and emotional release. These benefits include: improved hand­ eye co­ ordination and muscle tone, improved motor skills, balance and spatial awareness, improved attention, focus, confidence and self­ -esteem, increased connection to the body and brain, organised responses, better regulation of anxiety and emotions, better sleeping, reduced aggression, self­ -harming, obsessive behaviours, reduced sensory overload (including pain) reduction of fight or ­ flight­responses, calmness, relaxation, healing, improved social interactions and less social anxiety. Discover more about Yo’tism at:


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CREATIVITY How yoga inspires writing and creativity by training neurotransmitters. By David Holzer



amma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter in the brain that calms nervous activity. Studies have shown that people who suffer from depression and anxiety have low levels of GABA. Anti-depressants and alcohol activate our GABA receptors and relax us. This perhaps explains why so many writers have believed alcohol helped them write. Without knowing what they were doing, they found a way to make the GABA and inspiration flow along with the booze. Unfortunately, their bodies paid a toxic price. Yoga has also been proven to increase GABA, which is why, practiced regularly, it decreases our stress and anxiety. When I began yoga I knew nothing about GABA. But it’s the secret to why I became hooked. Before yoga, my writing routine was to sit down with no preparation other than a cup of strong coffee. I started practicing to get into shape after a long time of not looking after myself properly. But it was the effect yoga had on my writing that took me completely by surprise. Yoga changed my professional writing life forever.

Moving, meditation and writing

Yoga is often described as moving meditation. This was and is certainly true for me. As I became more comfortable with the asanas, the periods of time when I wasn’t aware I was thinking became longer. Most of the time, practicing yoga meant I lay down in savasana (corpse pose) with a mind as close to empty as mine will ever be. Because I wasn’t distracted by my thoughts, I freed up my creativity. When I lay down on my mat to relax I found that inspiration began to flow at a rate I’d never experienced before. I came up with story ideas that were often splendidly surreal. Poems popped into my head fully formed. I resolved plot twists that had been frustrating me for days. It got so that I had to ask my teachers if I could keep my notebook and pencil by my side throughout the practice. They were amused and intrigued – none of them had seen yoga have this effect before – but they could see how excited I was by what was happening.

Dedication, a personal practice and writing

The benefits of yoga for accessing inspiration are one of the reasons why it’s become so popular with people who do what’s called ‘life writing’. Life writing describes forms of personal, confessional writing. It covers things like memoir, autobiography, journal and diary writing as well as blogging. But, as every writer knows, inspiration on its own is not nearly enough. The German writer Thomas Mann said: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” The minute you take your writing seriously, or start to earn a living from it, you know exactly what he was talking about. Hatha yoga evolved as a way to prepare devotees to be able to sit and meditate in a comfortable posture with a straight back and relaxed muscles. Writers need to be able to do precisely the same thing. Although this is great in itself, the benefits of yoga go way beyond just being able to sit in a healthy way. For writers, they outweigh other forms of exercise like running, walking or swimming precisely because yoga is a discipline. Once you show up on your mat you need determination, dedication and will power to get the most out of your practice. As you do with writing. Yoga is about extending your edge, the limit to which you can gently push yourself in a posture and stay there. Writers instinctively do the same thing. We increase the hours we can sit at our keyboards and we try to write more words at one sitting. Without

om body them being rubbish, obviously. We work on areas in which we’re not so strong – anything from grammar to things like characterisation or dialogue. I’ve also found that I can apply lessons learned from practicing the asanas I don’t enjoy like Trikonasana (triangle posture) or which make me nervous – Sirasana II (tripod headstand) - to my writing. One of the truths of writing is that you should be prepared to confront the things that make you feel frightened, embarrassed or ashamed. Being brave enough to tell the truth can energise your work and encourage your readers to empathise with you or your characters. Yoga can also help overcome one of the challenges that every creative writer faces: finding your own voice. Practice yoga regularly and you begin to discover how asanas fit with your body. As a result, all of us develop our own unique practice and our identity as yogis and yoginis. Because there’s nowhere to hide on a yoga mat, we have to acknowledge the truth about what we can and can’t do. We have to accept ourselves. This awareness is the foundation for the way I write and what I write about. I wouldn’t have got there without yoga.

Asanas for writers

My writing day starts when I step onto my yoga mat. I sit, breathe to centre myself, and set an intention for that day’s writing. Once this arrives, I practice the sequence I spent many years creating to help me sit comfortably, concentrate, tap into inspiration and write. This is the sequence I now teach to people who want to practice yoga as a way to write better. It’s designed to be followed comfortably by yogis and yoginis of all levels of ability and takes around 20 minutes to complete. By the time my students finish my sequence they tell me they’re balanced, focused and energised but relaxed and ready to sit down and write. There are many postures that are enormously beneficial to writers but the simple ones are surprisingly effective. These are some I work with: 1.  Alternate nostril breathing to balance the intuitive left and practical right sides of the brain. 2.  Downward facing dog to stretch out the back and hamstrings and gently start the blood flowing. 3.  Tree pose for balance and to stretch the legs and cervical spine while strengthening the core and upper back. And here’s one last suggestion: try writing barefoot or in your socks. It makes me feel nicely grounded.

Why don’t you try?

I write for a living and the knowledge I share with my students reflects a lifetime’s experience of what does and doesn’t work. But here’s a simple exercise you can try. Immediately after you’ve finished your next yoga session, see if you can write for five minutes without stopping. Don’t think about what you’re writing or censor yourself. Forget about grammar and punctuation. Just write. I’m sure you’ll be kissed by the muse.


Starting on January 16, 2017, David Holzer will be teaching an introduction to yoga for writers online. This unique course, offered by the highly regarded Professional Writing Academy, is for writers and yogis of all levels. For details visit:


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You can’t BEAT a RETREAT Why go on a yoga retreat? Here’s why…



arning! Going on a yoga retreat can seriously improve your health. A recent BBC2 TV show aired this autumn took an unlikely group of nine people to a fasting, vegan, yoga, reiki and healing retreat centre in Thailand. Leading the show, The Retreat, was DIY SOS TV presenter Nick Knowles. And the results were pretty astounding. An 18 stone Type 2 diabetic London taxi driver among the group was declared no longer diabetic after just seven days on the health retreat, while Knowles himself lost nine kilos in 24 days. “This truly has changed my life,” said Knowles. “I’m less stressed, lighter, fitter, and low in cholesterol like a good spread!” Others found comfort in unexpected ways. One participant, Billy, dealt with the loss of his daughter after 20 years through the range of holistic treatments and therapies offered at the yoga centre. The show’s creator David Barrett said: “Having done my own retreat and being amazed at the changes to my health and wellbeing, I thought it would be fascinating and interesting to take a group of individuals who had never considered alternative therapies before and see how they cope in that same environment. What unfolded was amazing.” Not everyone was impressed: one of the participants, Julian, dismissed it all as a ‘hippy cult’. The fly on the wall documentary series underscores the growing trend for healthy living through diet, mindfulness and exercise as a counter to modern day living in the west. If you haven’t tried a yoga and wellness break for yourself yet, now’s the time.

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Humans & yogis Harry Chichester tests himself on a 30-day yoga challenge

“It’s human to fall out. It’s yogi to get back in” When I completed the challenge to do 30 hot yoga classes in 30 days at Sohot’s studios in Soho and Victoria in London, that is a phrase that I often heard from the teachers. It still resonates in my mind. If you stay in your comfort zone with a pose and only stretch to where you know you can maintain your balance, then you stay safe and ensure that you don’t look like a fool. However, your strength and flexibility may plateau. Whereas, if you take each out breath as an opportunity to extend further and test your limits, then you may sometimes stretch too far and end up in a mess on your mat. “It’s human to fall out”. However, finding the strength of character to regroup and try again is ‘yogi’. Having pushed ourselves, we know more about our limits and we can work towards extending them. So we try again. “It’s yogi to get back in.” This wisdom can extend to all areas of our lives, not just yoga. In our professional and social lives, we explore the balance between enjoying the comfort of the familiar and testing boundaries and stretching for new goals. I find that the healthiness of my life ebbs and flows. Sometimes I


work hard, eat well and exercise often. I get it right. Sometimes I am seduced by chocolate and TV and laziness. I get it wrong! The same applies: “It’s human to fall out; it’s yogi to get back in”. Doing 30 yoga classes, an hour and a half each, in 30 days, in intense heat, was certainly a challenge. I didn’t find it easy. There were times when I felt like giving up. Some days my diary was too busy for me to do a class, so I got behind with the pace and had to make it up later with doubles; two classes in one day is seriously intense. Besides the physical and mental challenge, it was also a big logistical commitment to make the time available. You also have to consider the travelling time to and from the studios, getting changed, showering and of course drinking well-deserved coconut water and chatting to people after class. The benefits though, were fantastic: a feeling of lightness and freshness, suppleness in one’s muscles, mental clarity, the relief of having sweated out toxins that block up the body, a sense of achievement and a glow of wellbeing. I highly recommend it to others but don’t be too hard on yourself whatever the outcome. Remember: “It’s human to fall out. It’s yogi to get back in.”



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Learning to forgive is essential to our long-term health and wellbeing

orgiveness is the anima (Latin meaning, ‘breath of life’), which means ‘giving for’…giving this negative energy to a higher power so that it dissolves in space. The more you hold ‘un-forgiveness’ in your body, the more you let this energy grow into a ‘negative energy tumour’. Sooner or later, it will transfer into a physical ailment. According to Chinese Medicine, when you don’t forgive it can affect many organs in your body, specifically the large intestine (letting go), liver (stored anger), and stomach (digesting emotions and ideas). Forgiveness releases you. It releases a very heavy weight from your shoulder, while at the same time releasing you from the inside and creating a lightness. It is a feeling of liberation by which you will raise yourself to a higher vibration of positivity and self-esteem. How many times when we have been angry with someone have we said: “I will never forgive you”, with our eyes bulging like Tom running after Jerry in the cartoon? What we didn’t know is that this spell we were throwing on someone else will backfire on us, too, even affecting us more than our spellbound victim. We can begin to forgive, even though we may never forget. Jesus told this parable in response to Peter’s question: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jewish tradition required forgiving another person three times, so Peter probably thought he was being generous. But Jesus answered: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. In other words, forgiveness must be unlimited.


A servant owed the king an absurdly large amount of money, a sum he could never hope to pay back. Just as the king was merciful and forgave his servant’s impossibly large debt, God is also merciful and will forgive our sins, no matter how many or how large. But just as the king angrily revoked the unforgiving servant’s pardon, God will not forgive our sins unless we extend our mercy to others, sincerely forgiving them for any wrongs they have done to us.

Forgiveness Exercises

n W rite a letter of forgiveness to the person. You don’t have to give it to them, but include all the details you want. n Breathing heart meditation. n  Light a candle of forgiveness. n  Affirmation: God is the love in which I forgive. n S end your forgiveness to the person(s) symbolically by repeating it and their names out loud. Karen Farhat is the founder of Body Mind Consultancy (BMC) which offers an abundant selection of bespoke healing modalities including: Transpersonal Counselling, Relaxation Response , Science of Mind, Heartmath intelligence, dream analysis, Spiritual Astrology and much more via its branches in London and Beirut as well as personalized online sessions accessible anywhere (

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IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Practical yoga therapy The Problem The Solution IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a common The solution would be to work out what is techniques to start you gut disorder. The cause is not known. happening in your life at this moment (when Symptoms can be quite varied and include the IBS occurs) and go from there. Perhaps on the road to health: tummy (abdominal) pain, bloating, and a food elimination programme would be physically, mentally, sometimes bouts of diarrhoea and/or beneficial to rule out food intolerances, and constipation. Symptoms tend to come and also to keep a food diary which includes emotionally and spiritually. go and can be dependent upon a variety mood monitoring. Yoga will help you sense of triggers including food intolerances, the cause of the emotional, spiritual and/or By Sarah Swindlehurst emotional stress, nutritional and/or hormonal imbalance and other things.


mental imbalances also.

om body Yoga Gate Pose (Parighasana)

Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivritta Parshvakonasana)

Start kneeling with the bottom up off the heels. Stretch one leg out to the side and firm the foot into the ground. Inhale raise the opposite arm up and exhale slide the other arm/hand down the stretched out leg. Feel the stretch in the side of the body (if you feel it in the back you have gone too far and so come up the leg a little). Hold for three breaths. Repeat two times each side. Affirmation: I release any irritations as I breathe fully (inhale/exhale)

Yoga Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivritta Parshvakonasana)

Stand with your feet a wide distance apart. Point your right foot to the right so that the feet are 90 degrees to each other. Inhale and bring the arms up to the sides and to shoulder height. Keep the chest lifted as you twist the body around to face the right and place the left hand down on the floor on the right side next to the foot. The shoulder is past the right knee so the hand can come down to the floor. (This posture can be modified by first bringing the hands together into prayer in front of the body, and then twisting around to the right and placing the left upper arm on the right thigh – hands press together and the right elbow points upwards – you then look towards the elbow). Affirmation: I allow the flow of life to occur and I feel in control (inhale/exhale).

Yoga Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Start lying on your back and bend your legs. Take hold of your feet with your fingers underneath and your thumbs on top. Inhale and then as you exhale bring the knees towards your armpits, aiming to keep the lower leg and upper leg at a 90˚ angle. Inhale and exhale deeply as you hold. Aim to release tensions and stresses on the exhale and bring in positive healing energy as you inhale. Affirmation: I release all fears (exhale) and bring in harmony (inhale).

Yoga Baby Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

To be done very gently. Lying on your back with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor (hip distance). Arms are at the

sides of the body supporting the weight of the lift. Inhale and raise the hips off the floor a very small amount. Hold here for one to two breaths, and then lower down on the exhale. Repeat three times. Affirmation: I am calm and peaceful in every moment of my day (inhale/exhale)

Pranayama A Cleansing Breath

Start sitting with the hands on the thighs or knees (and have a hanky handy!). Inhale slowly through the nose, and then exhale through the nose in quick sharp bursts, bending the body forwards as you exhale. When all the breath is out of the body, inhale slowly again through the nose and with control and then exhale repeat the short exhalations out. Do this up to 10 rounds (one round is an inhale and exhales). Sit quietly afterwards with your eyes closed and breathe normally. Affirmation: I breathe in peace (inhale) and I breathe out all toxins and irritants (exhale).


To begin with perhaps consider a food elimination programme to check for food intolerances. A good elimination diet will remove gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, pork, beef, chicken, beans/lentils, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. That might sound like a lot, but it leaves plenty of options for a relatively satisfying diet comprised primarily of rice, meat (i.e. turkey, fish, lamb), most fruit, and most types of vegetables. Eliminate these foods for 7-14 days. After then you can introduce

one at a time and wait for 2-3 days before reintroducing another food, and continue in the same way for all foods you eliminated in the first place This is a lengthy process but one which is worth it to eliminate foods that are not agreeing with you. Supplement your diet with a probiotic and a prebiotic as this can sometimes help reduce the IBS symptoms.

What your body is saying

IBS tends to represent an imbalance somewhere in a person’s life. It is quite representative of emotional imbalance and also stress. It could be that you are feeling a lack of control and that you are unsure of the direction of your life and its purpose. You seek stability but your life situation is feeling out of our control and this is reflecting in your IBS symptoms. You are perhaps also experiencing an irritation with someone or something and this could be a conscious feeling or a subconscious feeling that you are avoiding addressing. Clearing up your life environment will help you feel in control and yoga will help you become clear about the direction you want to go in. Make yoga a daily practice as much as you can for your insights to come to you. Sarah Swindlehurst is the founder of The Yogic Prescription. If there is a particular ailment or issue you would like covered in OM please e-mail her at


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Yoga A-Z


Y is for Yoga. By Carole Moritz

onfession: my yoga practice is not Instagram worthy. There are still days when I can’t do a handstand even if my Twitter account depended on it. I’ve been practicing asanas since some of you readers were toddlers and I’m still chasing some poses over 20 years later. Some days there’s no way around it…my Savasana consists of listening to the Lenny Kravitz song ‘Always On The Run’. I find my peace in rock and roll. There’s a perception that yoga instructors have it all figured out and know more than their students. You can strike my name from that column. Sure, I eat clean, I practice asana and meditation, I put kale in everything - and I still want to flip people off. So much for being markedly reflective and mystical. Then again, nothing brings me more bliss than having everything in my home in its place - I’m just one of those people that gets a kick out of a clean kitchen. I may not get around to it until 9:00pm, but I try. I would venture to guess my students teach me far more than what I pass on to them. For that, I will always be indebted. Yoga is a system of postures and breathing to control our bodies and minds to liberate ourselves from the material world and to unite with that same energy that makes up the stars and the skies and you and me. A yogi is defined as a person who practices yoga. Perhaps the disambiguation of a yogi can best be found in the distinction of proficiency. To be master at anything requires adherence to a philosophy. Which is why it’s important to study. Practice the poses. Whether you can successfully wrap your leg around your neck is not the point - it’s measuring the responses you have in a pose. Perhaps the pose is picture perfect…and it feels awful. Whereas tweaking here and backing off there, and the projected outcome resembles nothing like the picture…but you feel like a million bucks. In that single moment, you’ve emancipated yourself from all the shadows in your practice to discover something key - you’re pretty damn okay just the way you are. You always were. Why read the great books of yoga: Yoga Sutras from Patanjali, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika from Goraksha, and the Bhagavad Gita from Krishna - and my personal favourite, Light on Life by BKS Iyengar? You don’t have to. Read Calvin and Hobbes Sunday comics if that’s where your illumination comes from. It’s just to illustrate this:

Yogi versus Philosopher

Both a yogi and a philosopher are seekers of an absolute truth. But they differ in their modes of approach. A philosopher advances in the path of rational logic (theory) and wants to intellectually understand the Truth. A yogi advances in the path of self discipline (practice) and aspires to spiritually realise truth. Akshaya Banerjea, Philosophy of Gorakhnath All of what we qualify and quantify to be christened a yogi/yogini - honouring ourselves and others through the practice of awareness, compassion, truth etc. But wait…if yoga is all about casting off labels, judgements and criticisms, then never mind calling one a yogi. Isn’t that just being human?




Page 66: The men of yoga Page 69: Man on the mat

Photos: Alexander Beer




men yoga of



After discovering yoga following a sports injury, and then finding himself the solitary male in the class, photographer Alexander Beer set about creating a body of work that celebrated the men who practice yoga


ormer advertising fashion model Alexander Beer has spent many a time in front of the camera himself, making his transition into photography a very organic process. His clients include magazines, ad agencies, publishing companies, celebrities, non-profit organisations and TV shows. Although a relative newcomer to yoga, he’s no stranger to the fitness world as a former national level swimmer and now competing in Iron Man triathlons. He even once secured a contract for Saracens rugby team. Now, you can add to that list yoga and meditation. “I’m fairly new to yoga, about two years, and only started out through stiffness and a sports injury,” he says. “I was unsure when I started what it would be like, a bit of a sceptic, you could say.” Since then, however, his yoga journey has accelerated. “I returned recently from the most incredible yoga retreat in Ibiza. The


FM experience was beyond amazing. Beforehand, I did yoga maybe once a week only - but now I’m fully hooked.” During this time, he also noticed how heavily dominated the yoga world was by women. “I tried to get the right yoga clothes for guys, which I struggled with. And, while researching, I also realised that yoga is promoted heavily for women. Now back from my retreat – to which I was the only guy amongst 17 women - I want to promote yoga more for men like myself.” It was to be the start of an idea to photograph more men doing yoga to encourage others onto the mat. The Men of Yoga project celebrates the art of yoga through a collection of monochrome fine art images to depict the beauty of the practice and to inspire others. “I attended my first yoga class with an open mind, but with a little resistance, as I used to mainly train by lifting weights fuelled with cardio exercises such as cycling and running. But I quickly found the classes to be very demanding, and soon I was becoming increasingly more flexible and stronger overall.” he says. As well as many other physical benefits, it is also a tonic for modern living. “The main benefit for me was my overall sense of wellbeing and in dealing with the stresses of everyday life.” Find out more about Alexander Beer and the Men of Yoga project at:




B-Boy pose Benefits

This is a weight-bearing, balancing pose and thus is awesome for promoting upper body and abdominal strength. The hands, arms and shoulders are in the same position as they would be in a ‘military’ press position (arms at right angles, elbows tucked in), thus the arms and shoulders can’t help but be strengthened – especially as the whole body’s weight is being borne by them. But also the chest and upper back are under (good) stress, so those areas too are in the process of becoming bulletproof. And the fact that you’re upside down in very much a version of a handstand means that you have to be rock steady – and we mean rock steady – in your abdominals.

Common Mistakes

And understand that if you don’t switch on your abs (they’ll turn on anyway, as you’re weight-bearing, but you need to super switch them on), your whole body will dump out and you’ll lose any ‘lift’ necessary to hold this pose. Also, most people who attempt a ‘military’ press position, will allow their shoulders to dip towards the floor and their elbows to drift out to the sides. Don’t do this. There will be too much (bad) stress on the shoulders and wrists.


n P oint those toes! As one of our fave handstand specialists, Sainna, is fond of saying: “if you think pointing the toes in handstands is optional, think again!” n  Reach for the ceiling with that bolt straight upper leg! And even the lower bent leg has pointed toes. All this helps with the ‘lift’. And even though it may not be obvious from the photo, the head is off the floor, which is why it’s a version of a handstand. However, feel free to put the side of the head on the floor whilst you get used to this – but don’t put any weight into it! That’s not going to be very good for your neck. n  The head should lightly touch the floor and aid the balance as stabilisers would on a kid’s bike.


If we switch off our brain just for a second whilst we’re trying tricky drills, we run the risk of injury. So, a quick mental check when you’re in a pose – from your head to your toes – will ensure that all the relevant areas are engaged and good-to-go. And once you’re there, of course, breathe...

Mark Freeth (

Photographer: Hanri Shaw


om mind Meditation of the month

Ascending to old age A meditation for transitioning through the years with grace, rather than fear. By Jill Lawson


om mind


or some, the experience or thought of getting old is terrifying and painful. Dying young is indeed a tragedy, but so is denying the grace and beauty of the ageing process, no matter how physically and emotionally challenging it is to get older. The wisdom we can gain throughout life is precious, provided we embrace it, rather than feel distraught and fearful about how quickly our youth vanishes. The following meditation can be a tool to shift the perspective of ageing from a dreadful and uncomfortable fact of life, to a liberating and inspiring ascension through time. Practice whenever any negativity or uncertainty arises about your own ageing process.

Do it now

Relax in a comfortable position. Savour a few long and slow deep breaths. Enjoy the quality of each inhale and exhale, and notice the refreshing energy each breath brings to your mind and your body. Reminisce over the course of your life. Go back as far as you can remember, from the years of being a toddler to the age you are now. Recall detailed events of your youth and teenage years. Now, imagine in your mind’s eye a timeline, much like you might see in history books. On the left side of that timeline you see the date you were born. See markers along the way highlighting your life’s special moments. On the far right side, your timeline will end, marking the day of your death. For many, the thought of this is chilling. Listen to how your body feels as you visualise your full timeline, from birth to death. If anxiety or tension arises, breathe into those uncomfortable sensations until they have waned, or completely passed. Use your breath to relax and prepare to embrace the reality of ageing. Next, imagine turning your horizontal timeline a one-quarter turn, so that your birthday is at the bottom, and the course of your life takes a vertical path. Visualise the inevitable end of your timeline not as a stopping point, but a point in time that merges with the infinite blue sky, beyond the confines of your age. Let this image settle into your mind. As you rise along your life’s timeline, understand that there is no looking back, nor any way to look ahead. You continue, poised and balanced in the ‘now.’ Year after year you keep ascending, your unbounded vision becoming clearer. Enjoy the view of ageing, for some will never experience the same lofty height.

Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher in Colorado, USA (

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Senior yogis


Charity’s innovative approach to yoga is transforming older people’s lives

oga classes are being offered by a London charity to help support people in older age. The Wimbledon Guild of Social Welfare (, a registered charity, helps people of all ages across the south London borough of Merton to lead better lives by encouraging mental wellbeing and supporting ageing. As part of that mission it has now adopted yoga in a bid to transform lives. The charity’s Yoga – Your Way classes launched this year to encourage older people who may not have tried yoga before to experience the benefits of the ancient discipline for the first time. Student ages range from 50 to 83. Jane Platts (pictured right), the charity’s head of social welfare, said students have responded enthusiastically to the classes. “One person told us it connects their body and soul and is the best break of the week and another has found walking easier thanks to the lotus position loosening up his hips,” she said. “Another lady told us the weekly variations in the class help to keep her mind as well as her body active.” As well as the physical benefits, the yoga has immense mental wellbeing effects. According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over, yet it is estimated that 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS. “The fact that people are living longer is good news but it brings new challenges,” said Platts. “Our team is here to help and we hope more people will come along and try our yoga class to experience the benefits for themselves. Apart from anything else, it’s lots of fun.”


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My flow A simple verse to share the magic of yoga. By Vanessa Heerasing

My Flow Once upon a time long ago Searching for that something, the tomorrow Always here and there, forever to and fro Living on the edge in my own shadow Hiding myself away and lying low But now I’ve found my own yoga flow I can breathe in and out and let it all go It’s good to take things nice and slow I found my own strength in my own cargo It’s all in me, residing deep in my own chateau There is only one of me, there is no combo For I now know my heart shines like a rainbow No one can tell me I am not my own hero As I believe in me and all that I glow When I take to my mat and fly like a crow Then exhale and release to hold my big toe I inhale again and breathe through my torso That’s me on my mat, moving deep inflow It’s all in the mind when they say you outgrow Can you ever really be in the know? No! My chakra shines bright forever like indigo My family and friends are the winning lotto I am never alone nor do I need to fly solo I am resilient and fearless just like a rhino This is our time, right now, no roadshow Life is wonderful a delicious slice of gateau Listen to the rhythm of life beating right on bongo Watch the sun as it rises in warmth all aglow Move the way love moves through you like dynamo I share this, as you are your own manifesto Yoga with Vanessa (


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STAYING ALIVE... WITH YOGA Battle the darker days with a yoga practice



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o, it’s not a gimmick from the Bear Grylls adventure show…yoga is a genuine reason to stay alive, according to a book that tackles mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The book, Reasons To Stay Alive, by novelist Matt Haig, is a memoir about the author’s own struggle with major depressive disorder. Inside, he lists all the things that helped bring him back from the brink during his own dark days. One of them is yoga. When Haig was 24 he nearly killed myself while living in Ibiza, walking out to the edge of a cliff to look out to sea during a major depressive bout. He looked at the sea trying to summon the courage needed to throw himself over the edge. He didn’t. Instead, he walked back inside and threw up from the stress of it all. Three more years of depression followed. Panic, despair, a daily battle to walk to the corner shop without collapsing to the ground, but he survived. Now in his late thirties he charts all the things that helped him soldier on through those darkest of times. Yoga – as well as things like meditation and slow breathing – are among his prescriptions for coping and managing. “I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert,” Haig writes. “It’s great, because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.” He adds: “Listen to that yoga instructor on YouTube, and ‘walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet’.”

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The beauty of IMPERFECTION D

Embrace the cracks in your life and allow the light in. By Chrissie Tarbitt

uring the summer I had the chance to really indulge my passion for spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors. Being removed from my digital devices during these times provided me with the all important head space I crave, enabling time for reflection and the opportunity to focus on the here and now. I have often written about the importance of mindfulness or awareness practice in my own life and, for me, the most challenging aspect of it all is to practice without judgement, with acceptance of all that is. In being mindful or aware, we learn to notice how we react in a situation, which at the same time can raise all kinds of negative thoughts and judgements about ourselves. However, the true gift is that, in that moment of awareness, we have a choice – the choice of how we respond rather than react. Finding myself in a spiral of self-criticism recently, I came across an article on the Japanese principle wabi-sabi (said to be the


most essential of life’s principles in Japanese culture). Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the importance of lavishness, ornamentation, and riches, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection. This definition beautifully sums up how our mindfulness practice can bring about inner peace without judgement if we just allow ourselves to fully accept and appreciate who we are, as a result of everything (including perceived flaws) that has taken place in our lives. “Bringing wabi-sabi into your life doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are – without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting,”. according Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Natural Home. My husband has been a life-long fan of Leonard Cohen’s work. Now, I have to be

honest, I’m a latecomer and it wasn’t until I took him to a Leonard Cohen concert for his birthday that I discovered the wonderful poetry and words of wisdom he conveys in his lyrics. I find these beautiful, simple words from his song ‘Anthem’ very moving: “Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in” Of course there is no need to strive for perfection. He’s reminding us to get over ourselves, give ourselves a break and ultimately, enjoy the light that gets through the cracks as that’s where the creativity is, the real essence of who we are, if we are only prepared to let it in. Chrissie Tarbitt is a wellbeing and mindfulness coach, yoga teacher and the founder of Integrated Wellbeing (

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a Mindful life

In a new book, Neil Seligman allows readers to self-teach mindfulness techniques for any time of the day and for every aspect of life. Here we include a couple of short mindfulness meditations to start you on your journey Mindfulness Tea/ Coffee Break Drink your tea slowly and reverently as it is the axis on which the world Earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future - Thich Nhat Hanh INVITATION Breaks in the day are often accompanied by emails, social media, advert-laden magazines and other distractions meaning that the mind is still busy working away. This practice is a reminder of how to really stop. MINDFUL TIP Take Mindful Breaks in unusual settings and locations. This does not mean you have to climb the nearest mountain or rest on an escalator: even sitting in a chair that you normally would not choose or finding a different park bench is enough. Originality of experience increases ability to be present.

PRACTICE A Mindful Break means a full pause without any technology or distraction. Let it be one human being, one drink and some time and space to simply be. 1. Do whatever is needed in order to feel comfortable disconnecting from technology for the length of your break. 2. Prepare your favourite drink and take it to a restful spot. It could be the sofa, a park bench, or the old chair in the garden. Get really comfortable; this is not a meditation posture so curl up, pull a blanket over if you like, and relax. 3. Hold the mug close and breathe. Deeply inhale. 4. Let go completely and exhale. Sink into the seat. Sink into the peacefulness of this moment. Sink into the now. 5. Allow yourself to land fully in the freedom of these moments dedicated to noticing what is arising within. 6. Take a sip.

“Do whatever is needed in order to feel comfortable disconnecting from technology for the length of your break.�


7. How do you feel? 8. Take another sip. 9. What do you notice in your body? 10. Another sip. 11. What thoughts are bubbling up in your mind? 12. Let all of it be just as it is, and breathe. Deep, open, calming breaths. 13. Drink. Contemplate. Be. Record the feelings, sensations and thoughts from your practice in your Mindfulness Journal.

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Anxious Thoughts Fear: the best way out is through - Helen Keller INVITATION Fear inhibits the flow of awareness. Luckily, the breath has an amazing ability to release the mind’s attachment to anxious thoughts and to transform fear into ease. Although the natural reaction to fear is to hold on more tightly, when it comes to living life mindfully, there can be no safety in clinging, only peace in free fall. MINDFUL TIP This practice can be further developed by choosing a third colour to symbolise positive thoughts. Start by observing them and instead of dissolving them, increase them using your intention and the breath. PRACTICE Begin by finding a comfortable posture and by brining your attention to the breath. Take a few moments to let yourself arrive and allow the breath to draw you gently into internal awareness. Allow the gaze to soften, the eyes to close. 1. Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale fully, exhale fully. 2. Next, take 10 further breaths and allow the natural rhythm of your breathing to return. 3. Gradually let the awareness of your breathing fade into the background. 4. Bring your attention to an anxious thought or thoughts, be they profound or superficial. 5. Choose a colour to symbolise anxious thoughts within your body. Take five breaths here. 6. Imagine this colour is highlighting all the places in your body where you feel stress and anxiety to be present. Watch and observe. Take five breaths here. 7. Which parts of the body light up? Where is the colour most obvious, most intense? Take five breaths here. 8. Now notice if the colour is moving or static? Is it hot or cold? Does the colour have a texture?

9. Silently choose three words that describe what you notice. 10. Next, place both hands on the heart and sense the reservoir of compassion within the body. Take five breaths here. 11. Notice how bringing your awareness to compassion allows it to well up within your body and to flow throughout. 12. Choose a colour to symbolise your compassion and observe it flowing through your body. Notice how effortlessly and usefully it moves. Take five breaths here. 13. Next observe how the flow of compassion in the body has affected the anxious thoughts. What has changed? What colours are now present? 14. Now, consciously breathe into any areas of the body where anxiety is still present. Set an intention that within the presence of your compassion the anxiety may dissolve. 15. Take 10 conscious breaths and observe. 16. Repeat the 10 breaths until you feel calm, peaceful and centred. 17. Return to wakefulness in your own way. Record your experience in your Mindfulness Journal noting how your experience of anxiety has evolved through this practice. If practicing with others, take turns sharing your discoveries. 101 Mindfulness Meditations: The Ultimate Collection Of Inspiring Daily Practices by Neil Seligman, founder of The Conscious Professional (, is out now published by Conscious House. Available on amazon, ÂŁ12.99

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Tamingyourmind What’s stopping you writing that first novel, launching your new business or achieving headstand pose? It’s those darn little voices in your head, writes Claudia Brown


ow many times have you said to yourself in a yoga class: “I can’t do this pose! I can’t hold this balance! I don’t look as good as the woman next to me!” We are so used to these little negative messages that we don’t realise how much we are self sabotaging our own progress, happiness or performance. Sometimes you are your own biggest barrier. When I first became a yoga teacher, it was rather embarrassing for me that I couldn’t do a headstand. I was qualified to teach it, knew the technique, knew the safety prompts, I was strong enough, but could I get up there? No. The voice in my head would say: “I’m a yoga teacher and I can’t do headstand.” My own limiting beliefs, my inner critic, was having a good laugh at me and undermining my confidence. But I didn’t give up. I kept trying and believed that at some point it would just happen. And it did. And the good thing is I can now tell this story to my students who struggle with this pose, to encourage them and evidence that I was once in their position. So what is a limiting belief? I didn’t even


know this was a ‘thing.’ I came across it when I was doing my performance coaching qualification and it really resonated with me; those voices in your head. Yes, we all have them - real or imagined failings that we go over again and again, repeating the same negative messages. The end result is that is stops us doing the things we’d like to do.

Limiting beliefs

Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about ourselves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general. Just by recognising a limiting belief goes a long way to getting rid of it. Sometimes a limiting belief can be rooted in fear. But what is fear? I’ll tell you what it is: it stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. So it’s time to rewrite the script and tackle these limiting beliefs which are ‘false evidence appearing real’ in our minds, and doing so

on a daily basis until they are so insignificant they don’t even register as a blip. Now is the time to take control over those naughty little thoughts and banish that mind chatter. You can come at it from several schools of thought, so pick whichever one sits most comfortably with you. I’ve read books on coaching for performance and productivity, I’ve read self-help books and I’ve read yoga books and teachings new and old. What I have come to realise is that all the methods they suggest to bring positivity into our lives are all intrinsically linked and generally offer the same messages using different words and methods.

Here are some practical tips:

n S et a sankalpa. This can either be first thing in the morning for your day ahead, or it could be a resolution or intention for the week, the month or the year. Something that will keep you focused and moving forwards towards what you want. So when that undermining inner critic pops up, you have the ammunition at hand (or in your head in this case) to dissolve that negative message.

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“Just by recognising a limiting belief goes a long way to getting rid of it. Sometimes a limiting belief can be rooted in fear.” n A ctually be aware of your thoughts. How often does that voice say good things? Usually the thoughts and negative messages are irrational and we are so used to it that we don’t even recognise them anymore. Pay attention to what you’re thinking about and say to yourself: “Is this false evidence appearing real?” And more than likely it is. n S top torturing yourself. We all love to beat ourselves up now and again. You’ve had a bad day, or made a mistake at work, or dropped your evening meal on the kitchen floor (which you haven’t had time to clean for a few weeks) and all of a sudden your whole life is a disaster and you are quite possibly the worst person in the whole world. Of course this is nonsense. This is just life and every day we all have to take the rough with the smooth. So distract yourself from the negative with something that will make you feel good. Go for a walk, hit your yoga mat, meditate, or fold up the laundry that has been hanging around for three days. n W hat advice would you give a friend if they were saying the things that are pinging about in your head? Would you speak to someone else the way you speak to yourself? Of course you wouldn’t. It’s easy to offer words of advice, compassion or love to other people, but many people find this difficult to do for themselves. Be kind to yourself. Be your own cheerleader. You may decide that your intention for the day is: “I am amazing” – and then go and be amazing. n G ive your inner critic a persona. Once of my friends called her inner critic ‘Negative Nelly’. Once she had recognised her limiting beliefs and their patterns, she would say to herself, “Oh here she is again, Negative Nelly!” and then she would have a little laugh at




Nelly and send her on her way. You could dress your inner critic in an absurd outfit, or put it on a little motorbike and watch it wind up the throttle and burn off into the sunset. n M anifest. I love all those cheesy memes on social media about being positive and loving yourself. I follow all kinds of people, companies and threads so that I am constantly seeing positive messages on a daily basis. ‘What we think we become’. ‘What you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down’. ‘Your thoughts are seeds, and the harvest you reap will depend on the seeds you plant’. So let’s plant those beautiful seeds of goodness and manifest amazing things for ourselves. n A ccept yourself. There is a difference between telling yourself you aren’t good enough rather than committing to improve an area of your life or deciding to replace bad habits for good ones. Accept yourself for all your beautiful flaws because they make you, you! Reframe that negative message into a positive one. Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Ain’t that the truth? Stop comparing yourself to others, they are probably feeling the same way as you but are just a bit better at taming their monkey mind. n Y  ou have the power in you. If you keeping telling yourself you will never be able to do a headstand then guess what? You probably won’t. Your inner voice will either help or hinder you, hold you back or fuel you forwards. The decision is yours to take, and you have the power to make that decision. So give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself. Believe in yourself. Be your own cheerleader. And be happy! Claudia Brown is a yoga teacher based in Stafford (

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Feel great… with mindfulness


How to practice the two key elements of mindfulness for greater health, energy and happiness. By Oliver Gray

’m often asked: “Out of all of the daily habits to improve health, energy and happiness, which is the number one habit that has the biggest impact?” My answer is always “mindfulness”, and it is number one by a long way. Mindfulness can give you a totally new way in which to live that completely changes what happens in your life, and more importantly, how you feel about what happens. There are many elements involved in practicing mindfulness throughout your life. However, there are two essential parts that make up most of your success with mindfulness. PART 1: Do one thing at a time and give it 100% of your focus. Whatever you’re doing, whether working on your laptop, eating, talking, cooking, exercising, meditating, reading this magazine, having a shower, hugging or anything else, give that one thing all your focus; do one thing at a time. PART 2: Become more aware of the decisions you make. When your awareness is fully in this moment, it helps you to make decisions that serve your health, energy and happiness positively. When your awareness is not fully in this moment, you find yourself running on a conditioned autopilot where, more often than not, your decisions do not serve you. Many of our decisions are made unconsciously: this can be driven by our environment, our life’s conditioning or the millions of pieces of data being processed by our brains on a daily basis. Making decisions, every day, that serve you is vital.


Your decisions turn into your daily and weekly habits, and your habits are the biggest driver for your health, energy and happiness. Our lives are made up of many parts and in each part we have habits i.e. your morning habits, work habits, nutrition habits, exercise habits, relaxation habits, mind habits, evening habits and relationship/people habits. By bringing your full awareness into this moment you can make better decisions that serve you and in turn create more of the positive habits that serve your health, energy and happiness. HERE ARE FIVE EXAMPLES OF MINDFULNESS HABITS THAT POSITIVELY SERVE YOU. 1. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT Bring your mind into the present moment, rather than the past or future. Discipline yourself to avoid all negative thinking about the past and worrying about the future – the more you bring your full attention into this moment the more this will be your natural default position. 2. LISTEN INTENTLY When you are with someone, focusing your awareness on listening to that person dramatically improves the quality of your connection with him or her. 3. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING n  Have your full attention on your food, remove distractions such as the TV or your phone. n  Appreciate the colours and smells of your food. n  Bring your full awareness to how the food tastes.

om mind n E at at half your normal pace and take small bites. n S top halfway through your meal and take a break to notice how full you feel. n  Avoid talking while eating; if you need to talk, take a break from eating. n  Become aware of your need for the food you have in front of you. This can help you to control portion size and can help you manage temptation for desserts. 4. AT WORK DO ONE THING AT A TIME WITH ALL YOUR FOCUS This is your perfect opportunity to practice the essence of mindfulness at work. Do one thing at a time, with all your focus. Avoid jumping in and out of email. Instead, deal with emails in batches throughout the day. Research shows we are around 44% more productive when we do one thing at a time, compared to swapping between tasks.

“By bringing your full awareness into this moment you can make better decisions that serve you and in turn create more positive habits.” 5. REDUCE YOUR PHONE USAGE One of the biggest obstacles to doing one thing at a time and bringing your full awareness into this moment is the amount of time we spend with our phones. Give more attention to life and reducing the amount of time you spend with your phone. Here are four powerful yet simple habits to introduce. n A void turning on your phone for the first couple of hours of the day. n  Turn off your phone for the couple of hours before you go to sleep. n  Give yourself ‘phone breaks’ throughout the day by turning off your phone for at least 30 minutes at a time. This could be while you have lunch with a friend, while you go for a walk, or when you are working on an important project. n T he aforementioned habits are key, but you also need to build in longer breaks. Go on a phone detox for at least 24 hours as often as you can. This could be for a day, a weekend or a whole week’s holiday without your phone.

In summary

With most things in life, there are normally one or two really important, big things that make up 80% of your success. For example, with weight loss, eating the right foods at the right time will make up roughly 80% of your success. This really is the case with mindfulness. Do one thing at a time with all your focus and be mindful of the decisions you make, so in turn you create habits that serve your health, energy and happiness. Dedicate yourself to mastering this and you will become a mindfulness master. Oliver Gray is the author of Feel Great: Be The Best You Can Be which offers an innovative approach to mindfulness combined with advanced yet simple habits for health, energy and happiness. Available in stores and online: RRP £9.99

Competition 7 Night Yoga Holiday in India at Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village, Goa (worth â‚Ź1,940)

To enter please go to OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine has teamed up with Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village to offer one lucky reader or couple the chance to win a seven night yoga holiday in Goa, India. n T he winner(s) will stay at the Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village in Mandrem, Goa inside the luxury Shahi Suite. With one large king size bed, it’s ideally suited for a couple or for a truly pampering solo visit. n G uests will also enjoy two yoga classes and two large buffet meals (brunch and dinner) daily. n One free ayurvedic massage (per person) is also included. n T he yoga holiday must be taken by May 2018, subject to availability. Visit to find out more

* Terms and conditions apply. The yoga holiday is valid from 1 December 2016 to 1 May 2018 subject to availability. Flights not included. Visa not included. Preference of dates are subject to availability. If the Shahi Suite is unavailable on the requested dates we could offer one of our beautiful Raj rooms instead. Closing date: 17 November 2016




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om mind De-Stress: Yoga off the Mat

Curb those cravings


How yoga can help us resist cravings. By Charlotte Watts

ne of the many reasons that the physical practice of yoga has become so popular in the West is that its health benefits are not simply about the toning and strength it brings, but because it affects the way we can meet life off the mat. The level of focus it asks of us and learning to find softness within strong sensations, trains our minds and bodies to deal with similar intensity in whatever form. Cravings for foods we’d rather not eat, things we know we don’t need to buy and relationships we know we’d be better off without come with oodles of thoughts, feelings, thoughts about feelings, feelings about thoughts and a whole gamut of very real physical responses. We know that knot in the stomach, tightness in the chest, clamping in the head would all just go away if we filled that want with the thing we’re drawn to. But we also know that we’re going round and round with those patterns, so how do we get off the merry-go-round?

Getting connected

So much of a yoga practice – whether posture work (asanas) or more still, meditative aspects – is placing ourselves into positions or with focus that creates the challenge of resistance. Any reason we start a yoga practice is valid, but ultimately people continue because they start to feel more connected to their body and learn to be with the whole mixed bag of feelings churned out by our brains. Physical challenge, opening up your body in new ways, not being able to run away from that pose you don’t like, having to simply be still for any period of time; all of it can really push our buttons in places we might not like them being pushed. Learning to stay with that, explore these sensations and yes, even switch off the judgemental “I like this”/ “I don’t like this” mind can change our perception and lessen the level of reactivity to change and barriers. That’s where the new relationship with craving sensations off the mat can really start to flourish and we can feel we have more choice when they arise.


How a physical yoga practice can help with cravings Different aspects of yoga practice are known to help us address giving into wants in the following ways:

Restorative yoga

In this practice, our bodies are placed in positions where they are fully supported and don’t need to exert any effort to stay. Props like bolsters, blankets and blocks are used to ‘bring the floor to you’, so that you feel completely held and you can simply be in the position, stepping away from any sense of doing. A recent study showed this form of yoga helped with weight loss through its alleviating of stress hormones. Letting the body come to complete and supported rest tells our whole system that it is safe. So many of our urges and knee-jerk responses come from a state of ‘constant alert’ that doesn’t allow us to settle into an easy rhythm. The continually stimulating input from technology, news, the need ‘to do’ and worries from inside us can give the signals that there is danger around. Learning how to be still, soft, non-reactive and trusting can make all the difference. This is not easy though, taking intensity and focus to stay in poses, means we have to be more consistently focused on each breath and the unfolding of the feelings from our body in each moment.

Forward bends

The attitude we cultivate folding forward into ourselves is one of yielding and surrender, the absolute opposite of craving and wanting. Often when we start practicing the physical form of yoga, forward bends can create that very same spike of desire – we just want to get further. When we practice the fine art of letting go, we can notice that our body softens and we can deepen more easily. Yoga helps us to experience strong sensations in life by allowing us

om mind to look at them in the postures; long-term practitioners have shown to put on less weight over 10 years because they were good at resisting cravings. Forward bends also help regulate appetite and want if you practice those where the legs are straight, lengthening the hamstrings and creating good vagal tone; this helps our ability to self-soothe when things get over stimulating. Bend your knees whenever you need though; straining the lower back is never helpful.


Backbends lengthen the front of the body and contract the back, the opposite motion to much modern postural habits where we hunch over desks and computers. Even simply arching from the bottom of your ribs up through a long neck, to open your chest, can create an opening in the heart and breath that can make us feel we have the energy and strength to resist cravings. Backbends that are done as part of a well-sequenced class, allowing build up and releasing down of the muscle groups involved, can ultimately help strengthen our lower backs and encourage better postural habits whilst moving and sitting in life. This helps our whole bodies respond to stress with more resilience, strengthening our abilities to stand tall and walk away gracefully from that tempting cake.

Three poses to help when cravings strike: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose

This pose is a clever back bend that helps position the neck and shoulders to release, areas where we can keenly feel the effects of stress and feel locked in to our responses. It can feel rather intense when we come from a place of tension, so watch you don’t grip the breath and fully release into the sensations. The strength needed to sustain the pose can help redirect attention from cravings, but also show us how we need to keep soft in the breath, eyes and jaw to be able to be with those strong sensations and not introduce more stress. Breathing up on the inhalation and down on the exhalation can produce a wave-like motion through the spine and take up focus we may be giving to cravings.

Viparita Karani – Waterfall Practice aka ‘Legs Up The Wall’ This restorative backbend works best when we raise the hips above the heart, creating a supported backbend with full chest opening and opening at the base of the skull that creates self-soothing through the calming vagus nerve. As you lie and allow the blood to flow back easily to head and heart, this pose can help release the excitatory state that craving produces.

Balasana – Child Pose

Child pose is the ultimate resting forward bend to come back to anytime and catch up with your breath and curl into the safety of a foetal position, where the ‘unsafe’ signals of stress that prompt cravings can be soothed. The brain is calmed from tipping the head forward and naturally energised from gentle pressure on the forehead. This means that balasana can be used as a nourishing rest-stop between poses for anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or as a restorative pose in its own right at the relaxing end portion of a practice. Charlotte Watts is a UK-based yoga instructor and the author of The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness (


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Trust the PROCESS

Introducing the artwork of yoga teacher and artist Sharòn Cohen


ogis are a creative bunch. Recently qualified yoga teacher Sharòn Cohen is now sharing her passion for all things yoga through her beautiful artwork. She says her yoga journey and teacher training has, and continues to, inspire her painting. A big OM fan, Cohen says her learning and experiences from the mat, coupled with a deeper understanding of yoga philosophy and the actual physical practice itself have truly inspired her recent creations. “My style is deeply heartfelt and focuses particularly on themes of myself, as a woman, a wife and mother, and notions of the female spirit and how we respond to the joys and challenges of life,” she says. We’ve included a selection of her artwork here but she also has an online gallery on Instagram @artsantosha where she posts other examples of her work. You can also find out more about her at:


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Ancient wisdom, modern healing OM talks to Dr Kausthub Desikachar – son of legendary yoga master TKV Desikachar and grandson of yogacharya Sri T. Krishnamacharya – to find out how the chakra system can aid the integration of yoga with modern medicine. By Vidhi Sohdi


xperimentally-oriented modern medicine and the experiential modelled learning of yoga can be brought together to bring about solutions for the challenges faced by the health system in the 21st Century. Both modern medicine and yoga ultimately aim to deliver balanced mental and physical health to achieve the overall wellbeing of an individual. Whilst modern medicine has made huge advances in addressing communicable and infectious diseases, yoga’s strength lies in prevention; and, furthermore, it promotes healthy behaviours in the management of chronic illnesses. The main point of difference lies in the approach the two take: with modern medicine looking outward for the source of the illness, whilst yoga relies on looking inwards towards the self for the source. The potential meeting point - and the integration of yoga with modern medicine - could be the study of yogic anatomy and physiology. Understanding the yogic holistic view of the body, in particular the energetic model of chakras, may provide real insight to the many stress-related disorders that burden the modern healthcare system of today. To understand this model, I recently interviewed Dr Kausthub Desikachar, son of legendary yoga master TKV Desikachar and grandson of yogacharya Sri T. Krishnamacharya, the lineage that has pioneered yoga therapy and brought health to many practitioners. Why is it important for yoga practitioners and health personnel to know about the chakras? The chakras form an important aspect

of understanding human anatomy in the way the traditional yogis understood the body. Traditional yogis did not use modern medical knowledge to design the tools of yoga, but rather depended on a very sophisticated and subtle understanding of the body as a holistic entity. The chakras form a very important aspect of this understanding and the yogis viewed the chakras as a sort of fundamental energetic architecture of the human body. The chakras are furthermore not just associated with very important physiological functions of the body, but are also connected to energetic, psychological and spiritual aspects of our being. So in order to fully understand the scope of yoga’s tools, it becomes critical to have a comprehensive understanding of the chakras system. What do you feel is the most common misunderstanding about the chakras? There are two commonly misunderstood aspects. The first is that often people dismiss the subject as a superficial new age phenomena, and this is a significant error. Ignoring the chakras is like ignoring one of the most important foundations of yoga practice. The second misunderstanding is that the chakras are perceived as a gross physical structure that is somehow connected to a snake called Kundalini within our body. Chakras are not physical, although they have a very strong connection to physiological functions of the body. Chakras should be seen more like portals of energy transfer within our system, that can either lead us into a positive, transformative journey or, when ignored, can trap us in a negative realm.


om spirit What traumas and imprints can be addressed when working with the chakras? Different kinds of traumas seat themselves in different chakras. For example, traumas associated with birth often are seated in the base chakra and influence us for the rest of our life. The trauma of rejection, abandonment or loss, or growing up in a loveless or cold environment, can often influence negatively the anahata chakra, the chakra of the heart. The trauma of growing up with lies or manipulative mixed messages manifests itself in the visuddhi chakra. These are some simple examples of how different kinds of traumas can influence the different chakras: through yoga we can work to cleanse the body energetically of such imprints so that we can be healed from the traumas. What do you say about group chakra classes? Ideally, working with the chakras requires a great level of sophistication and attention because each of us is different, not only in our constitutional make-up, but also in terms of the energetic imprints that we carry from our past experiences. This is especially the case when we have to work in the context of healing or spiritual transformation. In such cases it would be ideal if the practitioners engaged one-to-one with their yoga therapists to optimally address such circumstances. However, in the context of general wellbeing and self-exploration of the body, a group class with a careful and competent teacher who is well informed about deficiencies as well as excess in the chakras, may also have a positive outcome. Even in such cases, it would be recommended that the students discuss feedback from such practices individually with their mentoring yoga therapists. What importance did your grandfather T. Krishnamacharya and your father TKV Desikachar give chakras and subtle anatomy? Although acharyas like T. Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar did not talk indiscriminately about these concepts, they respected them very strongly and took these teachings into consideration when giving yoga classes. Subtle clues regarding these can be found in their writings, for example in Yoga Makaranda, Yoganjalisaram and Dhyanamalika. Being very subtle teachings, they only shared such knowledge with those they felt could actually understand and implement it in a safe and effective manner.


What will you teach people in your upcoming workshop on the chakras in London? Participants of this seminar can expect both theoretical teachings and practical experiences on the chakras. Each chakra will be expounded in detail looking at dimensions such as their main functions, their location, the physiological functions they control, the psychological aspects they relate to, which elements, as well as feminine and masculine aspects, are associated with them, signs of balance and imbalance in the

chakras, which traumas are associated with each of the chakras and what kind of yoga practices are useful in bringing harmony to these chakras. Vidhi Sohdi is a yoga therapist in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and a research assistant at the Central Middlesex Hospital conducting yoga therapy research. She is also the founder of mi-yogah ( and in-service tutor for BWY and provides mentor support to yoga teachers, teacher trainees and therapists.

DIARY: YOGA THERAPY EVENTS WHAT: CHAKRA SEMINAR A seminar open to all yoga teachers and yoga therapists. Max participants: 35. WHEN: March 23-26, 2017 WHERE: The Bhavan Centre, 4a Castletown Road, West Kensington, London WHAT: YOGA THERAPY: ITS ROLE IN PUBLIC & COMMUNITY HEALTH Free event open to GP’s, consultants and medical students along with registered yoga therapists and yoga teachers. International speakers include Dr Kausthub Desikachar. Currently looking for sponsors. WHEN: March 23, 2017 WHERE: The Nehru Centre, 8 Audley St, London Event contacts: Vidhi Sohdi ( or Sarah Ryan (

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The new mantra art collection by artist Bhanu Palam

hanu Palam is an award-winning Indian-American artist who also loves yoga. In fact, it was her love of all things yoga that inspired a special collection of works this year titled ‘The Mantra Series’ released to coincide with International Yoga Day earlier in the summer. Palam attributes her creative growth and artistic progression to her growing interest and passion for yoga, which eventually led to this fusion of yoga elements in her work. “Yoga is a fundamental part of my life,” she tells OM. “I love it because it provides inner and outer peace for mind, body and soul. Through yoga and meditation, I am able to face challenging situations as well as


express myself and my creative output.” She first got into yoga after a visit to India in 2007 in search of solutions for various health problems. It was there that she was introduced to techniques on how to become more calm and relaxed. “My whole inner spirit and outlook on life has changed because of yoga. It has truly transformed me in every way.” Bhanu’s paintings are also shaped by her interest in the cosmos, astrophotography and spirituality. The alignments of nebulas coupled with the splashes of mysterious colours that exist in galaxies are transferred to her canvases. She uses her paintings as a mantra for meditation, entering a trance-like state of deep concentration and using them

as a tool towards attaining inner-peace. “My art studio is a dedicated sanctuary because I practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis. While meditating, my art is formed through my third eye consciousness. I feel honoured and privileged to be able to source these ideas from the divine.” Her Mantra Series collection is meditation-inspired art, she adds. “The swirling collection of circular mantras are used as tools for meditation, allowing me to enter a trance-like state of deep concentration. The pieces themselves contain mesmeric colours and the direction of the swirls are in endless loops, metaphorically aligning to the circle of life.”

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Finding peace Finding


OM chats to Sadhguru, a world-renowned yogi, mystic, visionary and the founder of the Isha Foundation. Here, he explains how people can reclaim a greater sense of inner peace and joy in their lives despite the busy-ness of modern times


hat is peace? People say that sitting on the mountain and meditating is peace. Somebody else may drink alcohol and become very peaceful and so on. Whenever your ego is satisfied, you are very peaceful. Wherever you go, in that place, if people are willing to support and boost your ego, in that place you are very peaceful. Only in those places where your ego takes a thrashing, that is where you are not peaceful, isn’t it? If you have to go and sit on a mountain to be peaceful, that peace is not yours, maybe it is the mountain. When you come down you will have the same problems again. Any fool can be peaceful on the mountain because you are there only for three days. If you live there for three years, you will have problems there too. Vacations are generally very short – which is a good thing. If you stay there a little longer, you will realise even that does not work. Because it is very brief, before you can create new problems you


are back in your old problems. So people shouldn’t complain about the shortness of their vacation.

Comfort and complacency

Generally in the world, when people talk about peace of mind, it is only about somehow making their ego comfortable. Instead of being in a disturbed state, they wish to be comfortable. But the very process of trying to make your ego comfortable is the whole process of discomfort also. The more a person tries to be peaceful, he only loses his peace and goes off track. A person who is trying to be peaceful will never actually be peaceful. Just the reverse of this process will happen. Generally, the peace that you achieve is only about making yourself comfortable. When you look at the mountains, you are peaceful. Suddenly an elephant rushes out of the forest straight towards you — all your peace disappears. This peace is of no great significance. It is better to be disturbed because if you are disturbed, at least you

will search. If you become peaceful you only become complacent. Complacency is the greatest enemy. Disturbance is not your enemy. Your complacency is the greatest enemy and this kind of peace will create only complacency.

Peace always is

Peace can also come out of achievement. When you have achieved something you feel very satisfied. You feel like you are complete, a whole being. This lasts just for a moment. This feeling of wholeness is not really wholeness. When your wishes are fulfilled, when your ambitions are fulfilled, or when everything is right for you, when the situation around you is comfortable for your ego and your body, these are the times when you feel peaceful generally. But this peace is not peace. Peace means nothingness. Peace is not something that you create; peace is not something that happens. Peace is something that always is. What happens on the surface is disturbance. This is just like the ocean. On the surface

om spirit of the ocean you will see waves, tremendous turbulence and turmoil going on. But if you go deep down, it is perfectly peaceful. The fundamental quality of existence is always peace. Right now, most human beings think that having peace of mind is the highest goal in their life. Such people will only rest in peace. Even your dog sits peacefully if you give him enough food. Maybe he is not blissed out but at least he is peaceful. That state is considered as the highest by most human beings on this planet – including the so-called spiritual people. They say peace is the highest goal. Peace is not the highest goal. If you want to enjoy your dinner today, you must be peaceful. If you want to enjoy your family, your work, or your walk in the park, you have to be peaceful. Peace is the A of life, not the Z of life. It is the most fundamental thing. If you don’t have anything else, at least you must be peaceful.

The highest state

Peacefulness is being projected as the highest thing because when someone has a disturbed mind, peace will be the highest goal in their perspective. Whatever you are deprived of, that becomes the highest thing in your life. When I was in Israel some time ago, I was taken to a restaurant where a dinner was arranged. There are different types of restaurants. Some restaurants are known for good food; some are famous for their ambience. But some are famous for the conversation that happens there. In Tel Aviv, this was the restaurant which was supposed to have the most intellectual conversations.

People started coming in and one person said “Shalom” to me. I said “Namaste” and asked, “What does Shalom mean?” He replied, “This is the highest way of greeting. It means peace.” I said, “Why is peace the highest way of greeting?” For me, peace is not the highest way of greeting. Maybe if you are born in the Middle East, peace is the highest way of greeting because every day you see so much happening around you. If people are dying in your neighbourhood, you will definitely think peace is the highest way of living. But if everything is peaceful around you, you are looking for some excitement.

Natural state of joy

To be peaceful is definitely not the ultimate goal because only if you are peaceful and joyful will your body and mind work at their best – and that is the basic parameter for your success and efficiency in the world. Your efficiency and your productivity is not dependent on your desire to do something, it is dependent on your capability. Your capability is impaired when you are in some state of unhappiness, frustration or depression. So, if you are interested in productivity, the first and foremost thing is to create a pleasant basis for yourself, so that to be peaceful and joyful is not an issue for you. It does not depend on anything – this is how you are. At this point, your body and mind will work at their best, and you can effortlessly create what you want to create. Discover more about Sadhguru at:


In a new book, ‘Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy’, Sadhguru presents readers with a path to achieving absolute wellbeing and joy through the science of yoga, offering simple practices that can be done by anyone, anywhere. Here, he talks us through the book and its objectives. “Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy is not an academic treatise or a self-help manual. It offers a combination that I have never attempted before in any previous book: a mix of perspective and practice, of explanation and experiment, of insight and the chance to test every hypothesis in the laboratory of life. This makes it unique. The end-result is a reminder of the power and profundity of yoga – not as acrobatics or metaphysics, but as an empirical science that makes you the master of your own destiny, the architect of your own inner bliss. In short, this book is a road-map to joy, an invitation to each person to turn from an armchair reader into a dynamic participant on an ecstatic journey inward.”

A Year of Self Discovery These training courses are for everyone, whether you wish to teach Yoga or simply go deeper on your Yoga journey. The teachers:

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Glasgow - Jan & May 2017, 200 & 300 hour London - March 2017 - 200 hour Bonn, Germany - October 2017 - 200 hour Helsinki, Finland - Autumn 2017 - 200 hour Liverpool - Jan 2017 - 200 hour Palma, Mallorca - Autumn 2017 - 200 hour For full course details, timetables and costs and for details on online courses, or to download our colour brochure please visit: Testimonial I have loved this course and would do it all again in a heartbeat. The teachers are so knowledgeable and brilliant at bringing out the best in you. The posture workshops, lectures, food!, all exceptional. It’s been a privilege to be part of the group. Valerie Johnston (Glasgow Group) Affiliate studios? If you are interested in joining the Seasonal Yoga family, we are always happy to discuss setting up courses in new studios, please contact us for more details or a chat.

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Traveling to Nepal’s Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu to spend time with yourself. By Laura Schwartz


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here’s no shortage of yoga poses that require practice and concentration to get right (crow, handstand scorpion, are just a few that spring to mind), but rarely do we think of meditation or savasana (corpse pose) as one of them. Much looked forward to after a tough class, we often sink into savasana the way we settle in for a nap, and while corpse pose is a time of rest for the body, it is also intended to be a time of meditation. But meditation doesn’t have to mean the difficult task of total emptying of the mind. Just as there are various forms of triangle pose, there are several approaches to savasana and to meditation as well. Trish O’Gorman, a yoga teacher who has taught Kundalini in the USA for over a decade, decided to deepen her meditative practice by taking part in the six-day Open Heart, Clear Mind course at Kopan Monastery in Nepal this past summer. Taught by Ven. Kabir and David Marks, the course was aimed at beginners and offered, as stated on the website, “guidance and meditations on the essential teachings of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the different ways to develop the mind so as to find balance, clarity and inner peace.”

I joined Trish early on her final day of the course to learn more, but I would have to wait until later to hear her thoughts on the experience. The participants, who were mainly from Europe or the Americas, had vowed to remain silent for the entire length of the course excepting discussion groups and Q&A sessions. Nevertheless, she confided later that she and some of her classmates had taken several excursions to a nearby coffee shop to chat.

Kopan Monastery

Located on a hilltop on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Kopan Monastery is lively. Built in 1971, it is a monastery in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition and home to over 300 monks, lamas, teachers and workers. Visitors are welcome to stay for as little as an hour or as long as several months. As Kopan is also a small school, monks of all ages can be found chanting, meditating and debating philosophy. On clear days, lush mountain ranges emerge from the clouds, revealing green valleys below. A cadre of lazy, friendly dogs roam the picturesque grounds, which include a meditation hall, gardens, a library and dorm-like accommodations. The day’s itinerary was simple and straightforward, and began with a meditation

session before breakfast. The silence I had expected, but this was my first experience with a guided meditation, where a teacher gently urges you to contemplate certain subjects/questions and to envision images, such as the Buddha on a lotus or light filling your body. Guided meditation, also called analytical meditation, is one of the more accessible forms of calming the mind, as it is a more familiar method of structuring and managing your thoughts. While Kopan also coaches on the differences between and

“It is a monastery in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition and home to over 300 monks, lamas, teachers and workers.”


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strategies to practice silent and structured (chanting) meditation, analytical meditation was the most common during this course. I felt this would be helpful next time I entered savasana at the end of yoga class; instead of the usual struggle to completely empty my mind of thoughts, I could instead select a prompt (like a quote from a spiritual text or a question about how to live with wisdom) and begin contemplating it deeply.

Buddhist philosophy

Upon the completion of the meditation session, the participants were released from their silence. Breakfast was boisterous in spite of the plain food provided by the monastery (all vegan, of course). It was clear that Trish and many of the other participants had developed strong friendships over the week. While teenage monks in gangs loudly


debated Buddhist philosophy in the courtyard, we returned to the beautiful meditation hall for a dharma talk led by Ven. Kabir. Unsurprisingly, for the participants’ final talk, the focus was on how to carry the lessons of the monastery with them and continue following the path after leaving Kopan Hill. Not a rigid lecturer, Kabir welcomed questions and quoted Thoreau and Pablo Neruda along with the Dalai Llama. He highlighted how the modern world challenges our ability to remain in touch with ourselves, and spent some time illustrating how practicing Buddhism is ultimately reliant on self-confidence and on working intelligently with ourselves. What resonated most strongly with me was the discussion on how meditation was essential to reconnecting with our inner selves in a world that constantly tries to pull us

out of ourselves by engaging and often overwhelming our senses – touchscreens, headphones, visual media, instant alerts, foods engineered to be addicting. Meditation, like yoga, is all about coming back to the breath and being in the moment.

Dharma talks

According to Trish, throughout the course, the dharma talks and guided meditations were naturally Buddhist, which could be a guide or a detour, depending on your spiritual or religious preferences. For the first two days, Trish – a long-term Kundalini yoga instructor - felt at philosophical odds with the monastery and even considered leaving. She wanted less focus on Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist doctrines and more exploration of the personal approaches and benefits to meditation. But then things started to

om spirit come together, she said, particularly in the discussion groups. It all came down to motivation and intention, and how to direct one’s energy towards leading a life of kindness, compassion and wisdom. Though the remainder of the final lecture centred around Buddhism’s Six Perfections, the lessons were universal and vital: how patience is a balm for anger, how to be generous to ourselves in body and mind, how we set up barriers between ourselves and others. Dharma is about investigating the self, learning to approach not only yoga but our daily lives with mindfulness, and about taking responsibility for our own happiness and our own suffering. Yoga and elements of its underlying philosophy were referred to often, such as karma and samadhi, which you may have heard in passing in a class but which the teacher likely didn’t have time to explain in depth.

Higher level

Afterwards, lunch was provided and with it, the six-day course came to a close. Had this been one of the earlier days, lunch would have been followed by two hours of free time and then four one-hour discussion groups focused on different

topics provided by the course leaders. When asked whether she had found the course beneficial, Trish noted that for her, much of the teachings reinforced what she already knew and practiced, specifically the power of adding structure to personal meditation. “Kundalini is one of the few forms of yoga that regularly incorporates meditation and chanting,” she said, “but for other forms of yoga, the monastery’s practices and guidance could be very helpful, especially as the entire point of yoga is to prepare the body for meditation. Doing yoga without meditation is like baking a delicious cake but not bothering with the frosting.” When we talk about taking higher level yoga classes, we usually think about more challenging arm balances and deeper backbends, so why not take your savasana or meditation to the next level as well? Next time you lay your hardworking body onto the mat for its rest, or sit down for some quiet meditation time, practice guiding your thoughts to contemplate a concept like compassion or a question about the nature of your own consciousness. You may be surprised by how far you can travel through your own depths.

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According to yogic philosophy, the Gunas are the three different qualities of energy expressed in the manifest world. By Vidya Heisel


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ogis considered that reality is made up of two parts: Purusha, the Seer, an intangible, omnipresent masculine energy that permeates everything; and Prakriti, representing all of manifestation, all of nature. Prakriti is that which is seen, she is both tangible and feminine. The Samkya school (the school of philosophy under the umbrella of Hinduism, to which Patanjali subscribed) regards Purusha and Prakriti dualistically, indicating that they are two distinct entities, which are fundamentally different andcan never be the same. Another way to look at this, is that Purusha and Prakriti are two sides of the same coin; without Prakriti, Purusha would not be able to be aware of himself in the world of time and space, and without Purusha, Prakriti would have no soul. They therefore can be seen as symbiotic and in this more Vedantic way of thinking they are not two, but one, and essentially non-dual.

The three Gunas

It is said that Prakriti herself is made up of three different types of energy. These qualities are calledGunas. Since everything that is manifest is Prakriti, everything in manifestation is both expressing and driven by by these three tendencies.

Sattva: the Guna of Being

Sattva, the first, andthe highest Guna, is the purest form of energy. It is often described as light, clear, aware, peaceful and pure energy. Sattva can be increased through meditation, contemplation, yoga practice, ethical and selfless behaviour andalso by eating sattvic foods. Sattvic foods include all whole grains, most vegetables (with the exception of garlic, onions and mushrooms) and dairy products. Sattva is the Guna of Being. A human being, sitting in meditation, is an example of the expression of Sattva in nature. Most traditional yogis think that having a predominance of sattvic energy is a desirable state.

Rajas: the Guna of Doing

Rajas, the secondGuna, is often described as kinetic energy; the energy of movement, change andpassion. It is the Guna of Doing. When we exercise, experience strong desires, and seek for new experiences we are being moved by Rajas. Foods that are stimulating, bitter, fermented and spicy, stir and agitate the nervous system and therefore are considered rajasic. Fire is a reflection of Tamas in nature.

A person who has too much Rajas wouldbe an ‘A’ type person who is always busy, running from one thing to the next, and has a hard time relaxing.

Tamas: The Guna of Inertia Tamas is usually seen as the most undesirable Guna as it is best describedas inertia. In negative terms it can be described as dull, dark and heavy energy. You can imagine an overweight person, lying on a couch, watching television and eating a bag of chips. However, Tamas doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as negative. Sleep is considered a tamasic state and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with sleep (as long as we don’t oversleep!). Everyone needs sleep, so Tamas is an essential quality that we all need to embrace. In order to live a balanced life, it is important to rest and relax and do nothing sometimes. Tamas is related to neither being nor doing. Perhaps it is about hibernating, in order to restore and regenerate. Mountains and rocks are examples of Tamas in nature. Tamasic foods are heavy, processed, difficult to digest. Meat and fish are tamasic. Over-eating or over indulging is also Tamasic.

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Although yogis traditionally triedto increase the amount of Sattvic energy they experienced and simultaneously to decrease Rajasic and Tamasic energy, it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that Rajas and Tamas are therefore undesirable qualities. Nature is a cosmic dance between all three of these energies. Everything that is, is made up of a different combination of the three Gunas. For example, you might be asleep (tamasic) and then when you wake up you get out of bed and go for a run (rajasic). You come back and eat some fruits (sattvic) and then meditate (sattvic) for half and hour before going to work (rajasic) and so on. Some more ascetic traditional yogis would completely avoid Rajasic or Tamasic foods and only partake of Sattvic food. They might have also tried to deprive themselves of sleep in order to reduce Tamas in the body. They also would meditate for many hours per day to increase Sattva. As modern day yogis we often have too much Rajas – we are very active. Meditation is the perfect practice to balance the mind and increase Sattva, as well as eating a clean and pure diet, and avoiding food or drink that isoverly stimulating to the nervous system.

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Balancing the chakras with


Harnessing your body’s natural healing powers with crystals. By Cassie Uhl


pill for this, a pill for that. In today’s society, it’s so easy to run to the store for a quick fix to all our problems – but what we sometimes fail to realise is that a more fulfilling solution lies within ourselves. Chakras are the best way to harness your body’s natural healing powers, yet in today’s ‘pill-filled world’, chakras are either overlooked or not taken seriously.

“Chakras are sacred vortexes of energy in our body and promote emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. When our chakras align we are internally balanced and feel a connection to the universe.” 106

What are the chakras

There are seven main energy centres in the body, known as chakras. Each chakra is located at different parts of our body and correlates to a specific body ailment or a physical condition, such as anxiety, headaches, reproductive issues, sore throats and depression. Chakras are sacred vortexes of energy in our body and promote emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. When our chakras align we are internally balanced and feel a connection to the universe. This internal radiance promotes our body’s natural healing powers, holistic health, happiness and positive energy. However, when our chakras are ‘out of whack’ we feel physically and emotionally off balance too. When our chakras are off-balance, it can result in headaches, fatigue, stress, depression, emotional instability and other health conditions.

om spirit The power of crystals

Chakras can be balanced in a number of ways and meditation, yoga and aromatherapy are all great solutions with tremendous possibilities. Though these methods are proven to be effective, they aren’t always the most convenient. Using crystals to balance your chakras is a great alternative to these methods. Utilising crystals that are associated with the seven chakras, such as emerald, garnet and rainbow moonstone, helps tap into the body and harness its natural healing powers. Crystals have high vibration rates and strong healing powers. Each vibrates at a different level to sync with the different chakras to promote healing and change. Knowing which crystal to use is important to balance your internal energy and raise your internal vibration to help heal, recover andrenew your body. Different combinations of crystals may also affect your overall wellbeing. Here is a quick guide to some crystals from the Zenned Out Crystal Collection and their healing powers:

Rainbow Moonstone

Related to the Crown Chakra, rainbow moonstone, eases depression and sensitivity to light and sound while promoting focus. Its pearly blue hue releases vibrations and helps issues with self and ego, acceptance of a higher power and close-mindedness.


Associated with the Third Eye, this violet crystal helps balance hormones, and relieves problems with hearing, vision, headaches and seizures. Emotionally, it benefits moodiness and the inability to face shortcomings in order to inspire individual growth.


This bright blue metamorphic rock is an aid to the Throat Chakra. It promotes health in the thyroid, throat, ears, mouth, face and neck. Emotionally, it leads to positive communication and self expression.


Connected to the Heart Chakra, emerald benefits the lungs, heart, lymph nodes, breasts, arms, upper back and shoulders. This precious, bright green stone resolves feelings of unhealthy love and the fear of being alone.


Linked to the Solar Plexus Chakra, the vibrations from this glassy yellow gem help digestive issues and illness associated with the liver, colon, gallbladder, stomach and pancreas. Citrine helps prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic fatigue. Emotionally, it balances feelings of insecurity and self-criticism.


Related to the Sacral Chakra, carnelian eases pain in the pelvis, hips and lower back. This orange-red crystal helps with reproductive issues and other issues that arise in sexual organs. Emotionally, it calms fears based in intimate relationships, and promotes creativity and enjoyable relationships.


Associated with the Root Chakra, garnet helps soothe pain in the legs and feet and problems with digestion. Emotionally, this red fusion of ruby and sapphire, helps balance negative feelings related to self-preservation and basic needs. Cassie Uhl is the founder and owner of Zenned Out (

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Blended and packaged in the UK, Huel contains all the protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals your body needs. Supplied as a dry micro fine powder, add it to water and blend or shake well in a food shaker. You can also use it like a flour to make cakes and cookies. Vegan and available in a variety of delicious flavours including Rhubarb & Custard. £7.50

Aqua Coco Active

Introducing Aqua Coco Active: nature’s own sports drink! Packed with 40% of your daily potassium, it’s the perfect 100% natural way to rehydrate after exercise. Join us – let’s #DoTheAquaCoco! £1.99

Conscious Chocolate

Finally, chocolate bars that are good for you! Guiltfree, dairy-free, gluten-free, soya-free and free from refined sugars. Available in health stores across the country in a range of yummy flavours including Goji & Coconut, Essential Orange, Cranberry Kiss and Coconut Crunch. £2.99

Udo’s Choice Beyond Greens

Udo’s Choice have launched a new formula of their Beyond Greens; a blend of certified organic greens, which includes fermented grasses, green vegetables, superfood algae and seaweeds; including spirulina and chlorella. The equivalent of 33g of raw, fresh greens goes into the making of each 8g serving. £24.99

Rude Health Sweet Potato & Cacao Bar Tg Green Teas Iced Tea

Tg Green Teas’ new low-sugar iced tea is available in three flavours: Ginseng; Mandarin & Ginseng; and Jujube & Ginseng. Brewed using tea leaves, not extract, and just 30 calories per bottle. Great for rehydrating after exercise. £1.39


The newest member of the delicious-yet-virtuous, veggie-packed Rude Health snack bar family. Combining the gentle flavours of sweet potato with the natural sweetness of dates and cacao to create a rich, fudgy and moist brownie-bar. And if that isn’t enough, it’s wheat-free, gluten-free, and made with no refined sugar. £1.19

TRY BWY... For a limited period ordinary membership for your first year is FREE The Benefits of Membership • Low-cost local yoga days and workshops • A free quarterly magazine, Spectrum • Personal Development Modules • Foundation Course 1 & 2 • Level 4 Ofqual-recognised Certificate in Teaching Yoga (300 hour course) • Level 4 Ofqual-recognised Diploma in Teaching Yoga (500 hour course) • Professional Development Modules and Training Days for Teachers

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BWY – for your lifelong journey in yoga

om living

JUST DOUGH IT. It’s bake-off time... secrets of making amazing long-rise loaves at home


Photos: From Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young © Nourish Books 2016, commissioned photography by Victoria Harley

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Fig and Fennel Sourdough Recipe: Roger Birt Makes: 1 large loaf From mixing to oven: overnight plus 5 hours Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients FOR THE PRE-FERMENT: • 100g/3½oz/scant ½ cup white sourdough starter • 75g/2½oz/½ cup plus ½ tbsp white bread flour • 75g/2½oz/scant 1/3 cup water

FOR THE DOUGH: • 350g/12oz/2½ cups white bread flour • 150g/5½oz/1 cup wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour • 300g/10½oz/1¼ cups water • 10g/1 heaping tbsp green fennel seeds • 10g/2 tsp fine/table salt • 175g/6¼oz/scant 1¼ cups quartered dried figs

Method 1.

Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together thoroughly, cover and leave at room temperature for 12–14 hours (typically overnight). 2. To make the dough, add both flours with the water and fennel seeds to the pre-ferment, and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 20–30 minutes. 3. Mix in the salt and knead for a few minutes. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for another 30 minutes. 4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle. Distribute the figs evenly over half the dough, then fold the other half over them, pressing the edges together to seal. Roll the dough out again, fold in half and roll out once more. If the figs are not evenly distributed, repeat the process but be careful not to mush them up completely.

5. Shape the dough into a ball, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour. 6. Give the dough a single fold, cover and leave to prove for another 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size. 7. Dust a proving basket well with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape to fit the basket. Place the dough seam-side up in the basket, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour. 8. Heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/450°F/gas 8, with a baking stone or baking sheet in place. Turn the dough out onto a peel and slide it onto the baking stone. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes, checking halfway through that it is not browning too quickly.

“This recipe epitomises our ethos of producing great-tasting breads that encourage customers to try something different.”

All recipes extracted from Slow Dough: Real Bread Chris Young 2016 published by Nourish Books, London Hardback £20.00


om living

“This reminds me of a pumpernickel, though traditionally that would have a much longer sourdough fermentation and long, slow baking in covered tins. ”

Wholemeal Dark Rye and Potato Bread Recipe: Remek Sanetra Makes: 1 loaf From mixing to oven: 1 day plus 6–7 hours Baking time: 55 minutes




FOR THE SOAKER: • 55g/2oz/1/3 cup chopped rye grains • 60g/2¼oz/¼ cup cold water FOR THE DOUGH: • 1 or 2 large baking potatoes (a floury/starchy, rather than waxy, variety) • 60g/2¼oz/¼ cup rye sourdough starter (see page 14) • 200g/7oz/¾ cup plus 1 tbsp water • 235g/8½oz/heaping 2 cups wholemeal/wholegrain (dark) rye flour • 10g/2 tsp fresh yeast • 8g/1½ tsp fine/table salt • 190g/6¾oz/11/3 cups sunflower seeds • 45g/1½oz/2 tbsp black treacle/molasses • butter or oil, for greasing •






Cover the chopped rye grains with the water and leave to soak for 24 hours. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas 7. Bake the potato for 1 hour or until soft, then leave to cool. Scrape the flesh out of the skin, mash it and weigh 235g/8½oz/1 cup of it to use in the dough. Mix the rye soaker, mashed potato and all of the other ingredients together thoroughly, working the dough for a few minutes until it changes from brown to a lighter, yellower shade. Because of the low gluten content, you can’t knead it in the same way as a wheat dough, and it will be very wet and sticky. Cover the dough and leave at room temperature for about 3 hours until it has puffed up and is starting to show little holes on the surface. Grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin. Dust the work surface with rye flour and turn the dough out onto it. Shape the dough to fit, place it in the tin, flatten the top with wetted fingers and dust the top with rye flour. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1–2 hours, or until you see cracks appearing on the surface of the dough. Heat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/475°F/gas 8–9. Dust the top of the dough again with rye flour, put it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/ gas 5 and bake for a further 35 minutes, or until the loaf has a rich dark crust.

om living

Fougasse Recipe: Chris Young Makes: 2 or 3 loaves From mixing to oven: overnight plus 5½–6½ hours Baking time: 10–15 minutes

Ingredients “You can throw in a handful of chopped pitted olives, cheese or herbs, in whatever combination you fancy.”

FOR THE PRE-FERMENT: • 300g/10½oz/2 cups plus 2 tbsp white bread flour • 275g/9¾oz/1 cup plus 2 tbsp water • 5g/1 tsp fresh yeast FOR THE DOUGH: • 350g/12oz/2½ cups white bread flour • 250g/9oz/1 cup plus 1 tbsp water • 2g/scant ½ tsp fresh yeast • 50g/1¾oz/3½ tbsp olive oil • 5g/1 tsp fine/table salt

Method 1.






Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together, cover and leave at room temperature for 12 hours overnight, or until bubbling vigorously. Add the dough ingredients to the pre-ferment and knead (“work to an even consistency” is probably a better term, as it’s so sloppy) until you have a smooth, silky, stretchy dough that is very soft but no longer sticky. You may find that this dough is easier to make using a stand mixer with a dough hook. Cover the dough and give it a series of single folds after 30, 60 and 90 minutes, then leave to rise for a further 2½–3½ hours, or until it’s puffed up and has huge bubbles coming to the surface. Dust the work surface well with flour and using an oiled dough scraper, turn the dough out carefully, trying not to knock out too many of the bubbles you have (well, the yeast has) worked hard to make. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal-size pieces, gently rounding each piece into a ball (but don’t go for the full shaping process described on page 21), then roll one piece out to an oval about 1.5cm thick. Using your dough scraper, cut 3 or 4 angled slots either side of the middle of the dough to make a leaflike pattern (see photo) and open these out slightly. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the remaining dough. Cover and leave to prove for 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 250°C/230°C fan/480°F/gas 9+, or as high as it will go, with baking stones or baking sheets in place. Using a well-floured peel, slide each fougasse onto a baking stone, then immediately turn the oven down to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas 7. Bake for 10–15 minutes until golden.


om living Nutrition Zone:

Sleep easy Natural solutions for getting a good nights sleep. By Sebastian Pole


good night’s rest is one of the best things in the world. We feel relaxed, refreshed and awake. When we sleep well our body repairs itself, our mind relaxes and we process our emotional experiences. Even our dreams, chaotic though they sometimes are, can be a window to our soul helping us to unravel some of life’s mystery. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for every aspect of our health. Unfortunately for many people, getting a good night’s rest is a struggle. Statistics show around a third of British adults are said to suffer from insomnia, with a quarter regularly getting as little as five hours’ sleep a night. This rapid increase in sleep deprivation has caused many people to rely on pharmaceutical medication to help tackle the issue. A report in 2012 found that one in 10 of us regularly resort to using sleeping pills. But they aren’t the ideal answer: as well


as causing drowsiness the next day, these medications are linked with side effects such as hormone imbalances and even, when used long term, memory deterioration. Sleeping pills often cause just as many problems as they solve. But plants in their natural state have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicines to support all areas of health. Contrary to medications, where one compound or

“Unfortunately for many people, getting a good night’s rest is a struggle. Statistics show around a third of British adults are said to suffer from insomnia, with a quarter regularly getting as little as five hours’ sleep a night.”

chemical is isolated and concentrated to high levels, whole herbs contain all the natural constituents of the plant, which create a natural balance and work with the body rather than suppressing its natural functions. They tend to be much gentler to the body and rarely cause adverse effects.

Plant life

Nature has created many plants that have relaxing properties that can help with sleep patterns. Here are a selection of my favourite healing herbs I use in my tea and supplement blends at Pukka to help support healthy sleeping patterns. LAVENDER: A renowned herb for settling frazzled nerves. The aromatic essential oils in this plant can help reduce difficulty falling asleep and prevent night-time wakening. LIMEFLOWER: A traditional remedy for nightmares and bad dreams. Its calming

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HERE ARE SOME OF OTHER LIFESTYLE TIPS TO RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO VIEW BEDTIME AS A RELAXING TIME OF DAY. n M inimise mental activity in the evening. Try to avoid working, doing life admin or sending those long text messages/emails just before bed. Give your poor brain a break. Those messages can wait and they’ll be a lot better when you’re less tired too! n E at more during the day and less in the evening – if our bodies are having to work hard to digest a big meal they like to let us know about it so eat a lighter meal in the evening. n A void excess caffeine. It’s best to not have more than two caffeinated drinks a day and none after lunch time. n E at the right foods – Go for foods that convert tryptophan to serotonin which makes melatonin the ‘sleep’ hormone. These foods include oats and oat flowers, dates, pumpkin & sunflower seeds but also natural proteins. Herbs such as chamomile help to relax the nervous system or influence a slight sedative action and can also help smooth out any tension left over from the day. Spices such as nutmeg have wonderful sedative properties to help you get to sleep and help to prevent you from waking during sleep. n D o the right exercise in the evenings. Try to avoid doing any high intensity workouts late in the afternoon or evening to avoid cortisol levels increasing too high. Do more relaxing exercise, such as yoga, at the end of the day. n T ry massage: We all store tension in our muscles so having a regular massage is not just a luxury, it’s a great way to stay healthy. n D on’t rely on alcohol - it is not the right antidote to sleeping problems and is renowned for disturbing sleep. Try calming concoctions with herbs such as chamomile and valerian in to unwind. effect on the nervous system also make it effective in treating a nervous digestion. The perfect, gentle remedy for children. ASHWAGANDHA: A traditional ayurvedic remedy shown to improve sleep quality by up to 66%. It tackles core energy levels, enabling the body to adapt and respond to stress in a more energy-efficient way. OATFLOWER: Oats are a natural source of tryptophan. Tryptophan helps regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythms and melatonin is synthesised from tryptophan. It is melatonin that influences you to feel sleepy; its release can be inhibited even by the presence of artificial lights. GOTU KOLA AND BHRINGARAJ: These help to calm an agitated and racing mind and relax the nervous system. One of the traditional uses of gotu kola is to help with restless legs syndrome

n S tart getting ready an hour before bed. Light a candle, run a bath and start letting your body and mind relax and unwind an hour before bed. The essential oils from certain herbs and flowers have been traditionally used in ayurveda to calm an overactive system. Sweet smelling herbs and spices, such as vanilla will do the trick. Light a vanilla candle or add a little essential oil to a warm bath before bed. n K eep your room cool as if it’s too hot you will be restless. n K eep your room dark as too much light disrupts the production of hormones that help us sleep. Blackout blinds can be helpful but a little crack of light is fine. n Q uieten the mind. Meditating is a powerful way of silencing the worries rattling around in your head. Go beyond your brain’s noisy internal dialogue and enter into a more relaxed state. Try Pukka Herbs’ Yoga Nidra CD. n L astly, let go of trying to sleep and giving yourself a hard time if you can’t get to sleep. Start by helping yourself to relax and the zzz’s should come naturally.

VALERIAN: This soothing herb is thought to have been used for over 2,000 years for its sedative and anxiety-relieving properties. It can be beneficial for anyone experiencing tension or anxiety. Valerian can help us to get to sleep and encourage undisturbed sleep.

and cramping can be stress-related and can have a big impact on our sleep.

Winding down

HAWTHORN: Traditionally used to support and strengthen the heart. It may help with relieving stress-related symptoms that affect the heart, such as palpitations.

One of the beautiful things about working with herbs is the way they can help our sense of wellbeing every day. We all need our beauty sleep and with my own hyperactive character I had a personal need to find something that could help slow me down when the end of the day beckoned. As well as creating Pukka Night Time herbal tea, which can be enjoyed to help unwind in the evening and before bed, I’ve also combined the power of sleep-inducing plants together in Pukka Night Time herbal capsules – a blend of seven organic herbs designed to encourage natural rest and sleep.

FENNEL: Traditionally used as a digestive tonic, helping to calm an irritated digestive system. Digestive symptoms such as bloating

Sebastian Pole is an ayurvedic practitioner, herbalist and co-founder of Pukka Herbs (

NUTMEG: This has sedative properties and can help to relax the nervous system. It may specifically help to prevent waking up after falling asleep – great news for those of us who tend to wake up in the night with a restless and racing mind.


om living Nutrition Zone:

So long, sugar drinks! Say goodbye to sugary drinks and welcome in a new era of healthier alternatives


n impending sugar tax in the UK has caused an uplift in product innovation in the soft drinks market, say experts. It means consumers can expect to see a lot more healthier drinks – and less sugar – on the supermarket shelves in the years ahead. Yoga fans discovered the power of coconut water years ago, but are always keen to unearth other new healthy alternatives. The good news is there’s likely to be more coming your way. And the signs don’t look good for sugar. According to research experts Mintel, 28% of sports and energy drinks launched in the UK this year – almost a third – have carried a low, no or reduced sugar claim, up from just 10% of sports and energy drink products launched in 2015. With the tax on sugary soft drinks due to come into effect in April 2018, the majority of sports and energy drink consumers say they expect their purchasing of these


products to be affected as a result of any price hikes. Indeed, the research reveals that one in three (32%) Brits who drink sports and energy drinks plan to cut back on the amount of sugary varieties they consume if the price were to increase; one in five (20%) say they plan to stop drinking sugary varieties altogether.

Market shift

Today, it is estimated that half (49%) of Brits drink sports or energy drinks, rising to 80% of males aged 16-24. While almost two in five (37%) say they won’t change their drinking habits at all, there does appear to be evidence of a shift in the soft drinks market as customers embrace healthier brands. “The pending sugar tax is expected to have an adverse effect on consumption,” says Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. She adds that new, lower sugar product

innovation will be a feature of the future soft drinks market. “Ongoing investment in low, no and reduced sugar formats will be essential to providing a different option for consumers, especially if these are at a lower cost to the consumer.” It may well be that the spread of yoga in the UK and elsewhere is helping to ring the changes. The research also indicates that products made with more naturally-derived ingredients are likely to appeal to more and more consumers. Some two in five (37%) consumers say that it would be good to know the origin of exotic ingredients used in sports and energy drinks, for instance Sicilian lemons or Brazilian guarana, while another three in five (29%) would be interested in reduced sugar sports and energy drinks made with plant-derived sweeteners. What’s more, one in five (20%) say that energy drinks made with superfood ingredients, for example ginseng, are

om living worth paying more for. That’s good news for a whole new batch of healthy living drinks products hitting the market.

Health drive

Mintel also highlights significant interest in new products using more health-oriented ingredients, with over one quarter (28%) of those who drink sports and energy drinks saying they’d be interested in seeing coldpressed juice included in their drinks, or products containing more fruit. “‘Cold-pressed’ has become an increasingly popular label in the juice sector, with these ‘raw’ fruit juices and smoothies positioned by some operators as more nutritious than standard products due to not having been heat-processed,” says Price. “This health halo could be mined by sports and energy drinks brands to

capitalise on the trend through products that look to cold-pressing techniques.” Another positive is that young people are seemingly ready to embrace the changes. A new survey carried out by Censuswide for soft drinks maker Hey Like Wow showed that nearly half of all teenagers and young adults (16-24) agree with the controversial new sugar tax. This survey cited a BBC report that showed there are currently 35g of sugar in a 330ml can of Coca-Cola which is the equivalent of seven teaspoons. The current recommended maximum intake of sugar per day for those aged 11+ is 30g of sugar. The treasury has said that examples of drinks which fall under the higher rate of the sugar tax include full strength Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes Indian tonic water and alcohol-free shandy. Hand me that coconut water right now!

Find your bliss Facilitating yoga retreats and holidays for nearly 25 years. Find out why people keep coming back.



Maple Water Drink

Maple water straight from organic maple trees in North America, 100% with nothing added. Full of nutrients and contains half the sugar of coconut water, a great choice for hydration post-yoga, on its own, or in smoothies. £1.99 (250ml)

Buko Organic Coconut Water

Naturally isotonic and great for rehydration, coconut water is a popular choice among the yoga community these days. From organic farms in the Philippines (Buko means a young green coconut in Filipino). £1.99

Nuva Spring Water

Flavoured water from France’s Loire Valley that’s free of sugar, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Comes in three flavours including the refreshing Spring Water with a Kiss of Cucumber and Garden Mint. £1.49

Tapped Birch Water

Organic birch water straight from the trees and forests of Finland. Free from artificial sweeteners and added sugars, available in ‘Straight from the Tree’, Apple & Ginger and the Nordic berries Bilberry & Lingonberry flavours. In health stores, yoga studios, premium cafes and food stores including Harrods and Selfridges, plus online. £2.49

‘My favourite yoga holiday destination’ Simon Low

om living Nutrition Zone:

Eat your greens

Ever wondered how yogis and health nuts drink those green powders? Well, it’s something that would be good for all of us. Nutritionist Marianna Sulic discusses the rising popularity of green powders and their many benefits The rise of green powders I think people are becoming more aware of their health and how diet is related to feeling good, the ageing process and combating disease. Consumers are moving away from multi-vitamin tablets and instead choosing food-based nutrients, which our body recognises and is more bioavailable. How to take them There is not a wrong way of taking your greens; it generally comes down to preference. I like to mix my greens powder with water or in a smoothie. You need to be careful and make sure the greens powder does not overpower the smoothie taste, which is common with stronger algae’s such as spirulina or chlorella. I also add one fruit for sweetness; pear or banana blends really well. You don’t need to add too much greens to your smoothie to get the added benefits. When to take them You can take your greens powders with a meal or between meals as a snack or drink.


The only time I would not advise to take a greens powder is a few hours before bedtime as some people may be sensitive and it may hinder sleep. Are fermented ingredients better Fermented foods are amazing for our digestive system. Fermentation pre-digests sugars and proteins and enhances nutrient absorption; allowing the food to be more easily digested. Fermentation can lead to less indigestion, gas and bloating as well as better availability of nutrients. Fermentation is known to increase B vitamin bioavailability in foods and produce other nutrients beneficial for immune function and colon health. What about other vitamins and supplements This will depend on each individual and what their health needs and goals are. I would recommend a greens powder daily to replace a vitamin/mineral supplement as your body is going to absorb the nutrients

from the greens much better than the supplement. However, an individual may have other issues going on, so this is when I recommend they seek professional guidance with a qualified nutritional therapist. How do they differ from protein powders Greens are different to protein powders as greens contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Greens will contain protein, usually 2g per servings, but far less than a protein powder. Protein powders are all about the protein. Does it matter where the ingredients are sourced from? When choosing a greens powder you want to buy organic. By choosing an organic brand you know there will be no pesticides and herbicides used with the growing of the ingredients. Marianna Sulic is a nutritionist for Udo’s Choice (

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om family Concious Parenting


Creative sparks Let your collective creativity reduce family stress. By Siri Arti

n the past nine years, my children and I have lived in seven houses, two continents, and varying circumstances. We have seen happiness, sadness, loss, gain and plenty of change. In fact, the most constant thing in our lives is exactly that: change. When I reflect on our homes, there has always been a level of vibrancy present, a secret sparkle that keeps us in good health. We value both silence and noise. At times, we are still and reflective, and other times we are loud and proud. We are adventurers of life, with music accompanying us every step of the way. Neighbours often hear us making an almighty ruckus involving instruments, singing, a thumping bass line and a lot of


laughter, which we choose as our favourite type of medicine.

Collective stress

Family life can be incredibly good, when it’s not being overwhelming that is. With bustling agendas and relentless responsibilities, we risk falling out of balance. This can gather momentum, building an unhealthy stress load that hangs in the air of the family home and beyond. My daughter told me that when I get stressed, my jaw-line changes and it has become a trigger for her to worry. This is an interesting observation on her behalf, and it has taught me how my moods, often unnoticed by myself, are not invisible to my family. These moods drift around, affecting

more than just the person in it. Raising little people is different to raising teenagers. Moodiness, confusion, challenging personas rise dramatically in adolescence. Teenage years may be the most challenging for a family, but they are also the most creative, so pay attention to this. Being the responsible adult, it is your role to find effective ways to manage and dissolve family stress. Encourage open communication around this subject too, discussing ways to address the energy in a family home brings it out into the open.

On my mat

Getting to my yoga mat each day to stretch and reflect, I slowly unwind and recalibrate.

om family In this space, I find the clarity that shows me where the stress is and how to address it. This helps me maintain balance in myself, which is imperative for holding space for my family. But what do I do with my family and their changing dynamics, hidden patterns and emotional charges? The most effective option is to bring us together to connect and recharge as a family, and this is where the creative spark comes in handy.

“Family life can be incredibly good, when it’s not being overwhelming.” We are all creative beings. Some show it in obvious ways and others don’t show it at all. Creativity is always there, hidden or not. It is our job as parents to ensure that our homes and our families are richly abundant in this magic. Exploring creativity brings a buzz to a home and wakes up the people within it. Look at each one of you and find the one thing that shows up as creativity. If it is there in abundance, wonderful, but if it isn’t, find a way to tease it out.

Delve deeper

Sometimes you can’t see creativity because you don’t take the time to look. It is easy to see it if you have a painter, a poet or a dancer in your home, but sometimes you need to look a little closer. I remember


thinking negative thoughts about my son’s interest in Minecraft, until I took the time to sit with him as he walked me through this foreign and technical world he spent precious time creating. I was entranced. It was mystical and exciting, wild and genius, and he had created it all himself.

Lead, explore, and share

Creativity is endless. Acknowledge and encourage it. It keeps the juices flowing, the brain stimulated and the fires burning bright. It lifts a low mood and balances a high. It keeps us feeling alive as we express what lies within. Be authentic with your creativity. Find an interest that speaks to you and follow its trail. Take the time to immerse yourself but also remember to share it with others. Lead, explore and share for a moment, and everything will fall into place. Creative times spent together act as family therapy, with no need at all to raise any awkward issues. Be aware of limited creative flow in your home, and when you notice it, find a way to retrieve it. Find a flow, be colourful, enrich each other with your skills and you will keep the love healthy and present and in that space, all becomes possible. Siri Arti is the creator of Starchild Yoga Teacher Training. To view upcoming teacher training courses and other events visit:

Always have a box of coloured pens, pencils and paper in a common room. Don’t hide it away, keep it visible and encourage drawing, writing, doodling, hangman, word puzzles, paper planes… the list is endless. Explore various creative activities like painting t-shirts, tie dying, potato printing, making candles or yummy chocolate moulds. Music is important, in whatever form, be sure to add it to your environment. If you once played an instrument before you became a parent, reconnect with it again. It will inspire your children. Introduce them to instruments that appeal to them and find a great music teacher. Share music tastes with each other, and be sure not to judge each other’s choice. Keep it open and experimental. Explore artistic avenues that you notice in your family. Fashion, beauty, clothes, hair choices, music… interests in poetry, creative writing, crazy make up, wild music, gothic teenager appearance… and allow the opening into these places. Take them to fashion shows, art galleries, independent movies, the ballet, and concerts. The list is endless. Keep your eyes open and watch for signs of interests and guide your family to follow the scent, to explore the unknown and to embrace creative change. This will help you to connect, making moments that last forever. In doing so, these moments will reduce and dissolve pockets of stress that can linger and hide in places unseen. Be a family that creates, and in doing so, be a family that chooses life, colourful, vibrant and real. Go create.

om family


DIGITAL DETOX Understanding and dealing with the effects of digital media on your child’s brain. By Bryony Duckitt


aising a balanced child in the digital age is not for the faint-hearted. News of the world over breakfast, hundreds of new online apps every day, online games, social media, TV, animated billboards, more, more, more. Youngsters today are facing a world quite unlike anything we have seen before. On the surface, this new world seems dazzling – bigger, better and packed full of more knowledge than ever before. Surely this is progress? Knowledge is power after all and a child of the digital age must be far superior to his internet-bereft counterpart of yesteryear. But is there a downside to the ever-present backlit glow on our children’s faces? There can be no doubt that the internet sparked a digital revolution that changed the world. It has changed the way in which we communicate and interact with our surroundings and fellow human beings. Every aspect of life has been affected – from politics, business and education to socialising and entertainment. Digital media has offered the world countless positive opportunities: global boundaries have been shattered in terms of commerce, online education has opened valuable doors and people can stay connected with the click of


a button, no matter how many miles apart they are. But the many benefits of this new age are countered by risks that should be taken seriously, but are often ignored.


The most disturbing of these risks is that the constant onslaught of digital media is affecting the mental development of our children. Digital media is slowly creating a generation of tech-addicts. A child’s development is multi-faceted. The development of the whole child involves personal, social and emotional development; communication skills; problem solving ability as well as physical and creative development. Research has shown that children as young as eight are spending up to eight hours a day glued to a glowing screen. Many of today’s toddlers can navigate their way around an iPad before they can talk. The world offered up by smart phones and tablets provides hyper-stimulation and a spike in feel-good neurotransmitters scarily similar to the effects of cocaine and heroin. The thought of exposing a child to such drugs is unthinkable and yet many people give no thought to what the many hours of screen time may be doing to their children’s development. This digital

addiction is on the rise globally – more and more children are suffering from depression, anxiety and aggression as a direct result of becoming disconnected from the real world. Imaginative play, face-to-face socialising and real life experiences are giving way to digital isolation and cognitive impairment. That said it is naive to think that removing technology from children’s lives is possible in today’s digitally-driven world of instant gratification. Technology in the modern world undoubtedly offers many benefits. And of course we are only human – every mum, dad, guardian, carer and sibling-in-charge has been grateful for technology at some time – for a few simple moments of peace (or something as mundane and necessary as making dinner, finishing a work project, making an important call, washing up...

“Only when we have their attention can we hope to win their hearts and minds” Eric Schmidt, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business

om family whatever it might be). But ‘just half an hour’ can quickly become two hours.

Balancing act

The key is balance. We need to limit screen time and offer children techniques to switch-off and appreciate that the real world has as much – if not more – to offer than the virtual one. The practice of mindfulness – moment to moment awareness – is the perfect way to counterbalance the effects of a high-tech, on-screen world. It is becoming more widely recognised and proven that mindfulness develops attention, emotional and cognitive understanding, bodily awareness and coordination, as well as interpersonal awareness and skills. Most importantly, stress and anxiety are greatly reduced and total wellbeing can be enhanced. The great Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, points out that the most basic way to connect with the here and now is simply to breathe. “Identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as the out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath. Very simple, very easy. In order to recognise your in-breath as in-breath, you have to bring your mind home to yourself.” When we are being mindful, the brain stops processing excessive information. The brain is designed to adapt constantly and research has shown that we can train our brains to change permanently and that mindfulness techniques can completely change the way in which different areas of the brain communicate with each other.

Remember a make-believe world where you created games, fantasised worlds, climbed trees and played for hours without an iPhone or Nintendo in sight n Walk in the park: without your face attached to the screen looking for Pokemons. Perhaps fun (although slightly odd) to do now and then – set a time aside for this so that the rest of the walk can be about spotting magpies, making daisy chains, listening to birds sing, finding shapes in the clouds, learning about different trees, juggling conkers. n Ride a scooter, roller skates or bikes ... the real thing – not the virtual version! n Skip, hula-hoop, spin in circles and watch the sky spin around n Dance like no one is watching n Explore the healing world of yoga n Learn to play an instrument. You don’t have to be born musical to have fun n Write and send a letter – on actual paper n Write a poem, story or a song, draw a picture, paint or make jewellery. Make pompoms on forks, make a model airplane, design dolls clothes, play cards and board games

There truly is a lot do without ever hitting an on-switch. But perhaps most importantly – set an example. There is no escaping the world of the smart phone – texting, talking, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email. Instead start to cultivate an awareness of how often, and when, you are going to engage with your phone. Encourage your own inner child to come out to play - kick a football, get on that slide, push your child on the swing, play tag, hide and seek. Buy a good old-fashioned alarm clock for £5 and eliminate phones, iPads and laptops etc from the bedroom at least an hour before bed. This is a time for winding down, not for letting the glowing screen tell the brain to stay alert. Eliminate the devices at dinner time. Try some mindful eating – explore your food, chat about your day, cultivate conversational skills, tell bad jokes, encourage laughter and social interaction, discuss worries. Balance technology with reality and re-connect. Bryony Duckitt is the creator of YogaBeez, offering children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher trainings suitable for teachers, parents, therapists and carers (

Real activities

Here are some activities all children can be encouraged to do rather than engaging with an electronic device: n Colour mandalas: good for concentration, relaxation, refining fine motor skills, encouraging creativity n Lego or good old school Meccano: encourages design, following a pattern, creating original pieces, architecture, building, construction, fine motor skills, dexterity n Read: encouraging the joy of reading sets the foundation for a world of imagination and inner peace n Play: use your imagination and encourage your child to use theirs too! Harness their creativity. When confronted with cries of “I’m bored!” remember that there is so much around us and inside us that can counteract this boredom.


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Pregnancy strong Navigate the ups and downs of pregnancy with yoga strength. Lynsey Riach says that a stronger class can work for experienced practitioners


ast year, I wrote an article discussing strength in our bodies and minds through regular yoga, complete with matching beautiful black and white photos. The piece was titled ‘Yoga Strong’. I genuinely had never felt physically stronger than that time in my life. Six weeks later, I ran around our house in my nightie screaming to my husband that I was pregnant. After such joyous news, I found myself back on the same mat I had always stood on suddenly frozen, unsure of how to move my body. There was a tiny seed growing inside of me that was fragile and would require my energy and my love, but what about what I required? I wouldn’t stop my yoga would I? How could I when it had given me so much? I knew that so many others before me had continued with their own practice…I had even seen photos of women close to delivery in Sirsasana (Headstand). So a quick Google search would let me know the basics because surprisingly in my teacher training, we only really glossed over pregnancy during yoga and I had never


actually taught a pregnant student before. The whole thing utterly consumed me. I was flooded with news, apps and websites that told me to definitely hit the mat.


Back to Google and as I should have known, it returned a tsunami of contradictions. Don’t twist, yes twist; don’t back bend, sure you can backbend! It was a mess. Pregnancy lasts 10 months not nine (think about those 40 weeks divided by four) and your body will constantly change so of course your activities and style of movement will too. The information was overwhelming so I figured there was nothing for it but to slow it down and go through some sun salutations. I was bored, frustrated and gave up. It just wasn’t my regular style and I couldn’t fully ‘get into’ the place I would normally be at. So, I attended some local prenatal classes. One was awesome and taught by an inspiring teacher with tremendous knowledge. She knew how to move through all stages of pregnancy and I loved her challenging classes that gave me the

confidence to know what I could and couldn’t do. Other classes were less inspiring and offered up, quite frankly, what I imagine most prenatal classes to be - a whole lot of breathing and not a lot of backbending. It was dull and nothing like my regular energetic flow. It troubled me to think that most pregnant ladies who are new to yoga probably feel this is what they have to do. You don’t. Although, caution is paramount.


And yet so many websites, books and doctors all dish out prenatal or pregnancy yoga as the ‘go-to’ exercise regime the minute you see that positive test result. But what if you’ve had no prior yoga experience – then it might not be just what the doctor ordered? Of course, not to scare anyone away from yoga (why would I?) but it is also more than just exercise…it’s a whole community, an industry where it often takes a little time to ‘get it’. So, showing up to a super slow class where there may be some ‘yoga talk’ in a

om family strange language and students are told to do funny things with their noses and breathing could scare off some mamas-tobe. Instead, you have to be open-minded and give it a try a few times before making your decision to continue or not. For expectant mums who happen to be total beginners, yoga will certainly offer a gentle exercise during a special time in life - but it doesn’t have to be all slow with the flow. If, like me, you have been practicing for some time, you can keep to your normal level of practice - with a few variations. And make sure you go to a class that is in line with your level so you can still be challenged if you want to be.

“Through my pregnancy journey, I kept up a level I could never have imagined on that day when I first stood in Tadasana And as for thoughts of your centre of gravity changing as your bump grows – I remain the same pillar of strength in standing balances. I may wobble a little in dancers pose but it’s nothing to be scared of or shy away from. It’s like ‘normal’ practice but I’m pregnant, that’s all.

Strong practice

So as I retreated back to my own space and felt a burst of acceptance for my growing body, week-by-week my practice continued at the same level. Some days I was more energetic than others but every single day I did one thing – I listened to my body. If it felt achy, I targeted that part; if I had energy or wanted to get stronger, I worked on that. I didn’t give up; I met my mat and offered thanks after pranayama. Beautifully at 20 weeks lying in savasasana our baby kicked for the very first time – was this karma? It sure felt sweet enough to be. Through my pregnancy journey, I kept up a level I could never have imagined on that day when I first stood in tadasana (mountain), unsure of what asana to do next. The weeks rocketed by and with daily practice the benefits came flooding in. I never experienced nausea or stretch marks, and I had endless energy. I walked at the same speed and tiredness or sleeplessness wasn’t really a big issue for me either, fortunately. Just towards the end, my lower back started to ache but it was nothing a divine recline into ustrasana (camel) couldn’t fix. It

wasn’t all easy though. I dedicated time (an hour a day) to my yoga, I moved regularly throughout the day walking our dogs and went swimming. But I always offered gratitude to my mind for giving me discipline to practice each day and thanks to my body for co-operating and growing our healthy baby boy inside of me with no complications.

Yoga is for everyone

And at 36 weeks gestational, I was overjoyed that I could shoot the very same beautiful black and white shots that I had previously used for my ‘Yoga Strong’ piece but now with a beautiful bump on board. Every pregnancy is unique so it would be sanctimonious to suggest that yoga is what has given me a healthy and happy pregnancy - because I don’t actually know that. But a big part of me believes that without my practice I would surely have felt more side-effects. I genuinely spent most days feeling not just grateful but quite frankly, astounded that I could possibly feel this good, pregnant. I just felt simply by moving every day I was more connected to my baby and to myself. I was stronger in my mind and body, I became overly fascinated with what we can truly achieve if we believe in something and show commitment to it. And I really believe my body (and yours) is a gift that is made to grow and birth a human being naturally whilst developing a path we travel on to find a new part of ourselves in the process. Yoga is more than just exercise or movement. Those stretches every day sure do help make tying your shoes easier but proper breathwork (pranyama) and meditation kept me at ease and calm at a time when many pregnant women become anxious about the changes that will soon ensue. Of course, this can also help us with birth. As yoga has always taught me to tune in to my inner self and tune out the noise of this world, you too can utilise these tools whenever the time is right to do so. If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant (hooray!), have practiced yoga before or not – I suggest by all means giving it a go. Do your research and only go to a class you feel would suit you and your personality or exercise style. Listen to your body daily and reward it with movement and it will reward you. NOTE: Every pregnancy and every body is different. Please consult a qualified practitioner or physician before commencing any new exercise programme during pregnancy.

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Pregnancy strong 6 asanas to get you pregnancy strong at home This sequence will help open the hips, stretch the back and abdominal muscles whilst relieving the body from any aches and pains all whilst providing you with a stronger pregnancy practice. By Lynsey Riach

Extended Hand To Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Starting in mountain pose, bring your left hand to your hip for balance and find a focal point to concentrate on. Slowly bring your right leg towards your belly, bending the knee hooking the finger to the big toe. Extend your leg out to the side, opening the hip, remaining straight and upright with no bend in your spine. Standing leg is firm, but knee is not locked. This strengthens control in your mind, standing leg and promotes flexibility in the hip socket and hamstrings. Hold for 3-5 breaths then repeat on the other side.


One Legged Pigeon (Kapotasana)

Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Stay here anywhere from 3-5 breaths before switching legs. Use a block if needed for support.



Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)

This is only to be practiced if you have previously practiced this asana. Push back into downdog and bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot like side plank. On an inhalation, lift your hips and carefully ‘flip’ yourself over by staying strong in your right hand and stepping your left foot back. Place your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent. Curl back through your upper back to create a sweeping action of the shoulder blades into the back of the rib cage. On an inhalation lift your hips higher until you curl more into a backbend whilst extending your left arm away from your heart. Stay for 3-5 breaths on each side promoting a stronger back and hip flexors with each time you practice this extension.

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Upward Plank

Sit in Dandasana (staff pose) with your hands several inches behind your hips and your fingers pointing forward. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, big toes turned inward, heels at least a foot away from your buttocks. Press your inner feet and hands down against the floor, and lift your hips until you come into a reverse tabletop position, torso and thighs approximately parallel to the floor, shins and arms approximately perpendicular. Without losing the height of your hips, straighten your legs one at a time. Lift your hips still higher and slowly drop your head back for 3-5 breaths.


Reclined Hero (Supta Virasana)

Only to be practiced if you have previously practiced this asana. From dancing camel, begin to walk your hands back onto the mat behind you and slowly shuffle your body down until your shoulder blades meet the mat. Rest your palms facing up for as long as you feel necessary. NOTE: Every pregnancy and every body is different. Please consult a qualified practitioner or physician before commencing any new exercise programme during pregnancy.


Dancing Camel (Ustrasana)

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width apart and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Extend one arm overhead and swing it back to reach the ankle on the same side whilst the other hand rests on the back of your pelvis. Lightly firm the tail forward toward the pubis. Now lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and push hips forward. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat. Stay in this pose for 3-5 breaths then switch arms.


6. Bridge (Setu Bandha)

Feel free to use a block for additional support. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Press your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the ceiling. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Feel your back arch and extend whilst holding for 3-5 breaths.


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SPLASH of colour

om actions Meet Kate Tweddle and Elaine Maher, the creative duo transforming yoga studios with their distinctive graphic murals


ate Tweddle and Elaine Maher, the two young creatives behind Infinite Sky (, are in the process of establishing a business that’s set to transform the spaces in which we practice yoga. Their bespoke, hand painted murals feature beautiful landscapes, wide open vistas and calming colour gradients. The idea is to bring a little more colour and Zen into our lives, even in the sanctuary of a yoga studio they tell OM. Modern day life leaves many people disconnected both from nature and themselves, whilst exercising our bodies and minds indoors can prevent us from feeling in touch with the earth. Infinite Sky’s goal is to create spaces that surround students with tranquillity and nature, leaving them feeling peaceful and grounded.

Love design

Tweddle, a Scottish jewellery designer and Maher, an Irish graphic designer and illustrator, were living together and temping in office jobs having just moved to Edinburgh. Both being yoga lovers themselves and always keen to try new creative ventures they jumped at the chance to work together. “We love designing, painting, connecting with people and filling the world with more colour,” says Maher. “We’re passionate about murals and the transformative effect they have on our experience within a space.” She says the colour palette, scale and inspiration for the mural has differing effects on the ambience of an individual space. Pale and subtle colours create a delicate and serene mood encouraging a relaxed vibe, where brighter or bolder colours add impact, giving a more energetic environment. “Our full wrap-around murals change a space dramatically, as the perspective and depth they bring alter it completely,” she adds. “The room appears much bigger which gives a sense of openness in an enclosed space, as you are enveloped by the beautiful natural imagery.” She says studios also commission smaller works of art, which sit on clean white walls; this allows the piece lots of breathing space providing a unique feature for a more focused effect.


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There’s definitely something to this mindful colouring phenomenon. We loved the giant colouring board installed at London Victoria Station this summer to bring calm to the one in three Brits that experience travel-related stress. The artful installation – which attracted everyone from kids to coppers – encouraged members of the public to pick up a pen and enjoy one of the nation’s favourite calming crazes together. Distraction tools such as colouring books (as well as films, books, music and apps) are a popular choice for a smooth journey if you’re feeling the stress. “We hope that our colouring board installation helped to share a little Zen among frazzled rail users,” said Carolyne Creed, wellbeing advisor at Holiday Extras (, which organised the artwork.

And yoga students have responded favourably to their work, saying that their practice feels “more intense and focused” and that there is “something special and magical about the energy of the space”.

Studio makeover

One studio to get the Infinite Sky makeover is Tribe Yoga ( in Edinburgh. There, students and teachers alike have stated how they love the mural, and how


“Our full wrap-around murals change a space dramatically, as the perspective and depth they bring alter it completely, as you are enveloped by the beautiful natural imagery.”

it enhances the studio’s overall sense of peace and stillness. “Our first ever mural at Tribe Yoga would be our most memorable as we painted it in one night and worked for 16 hours without a break,” recalls Tweddle. “We started after class finished on a Saturday evening and were finished before classes began in the morning… that was intense!” This is now a part of the Infinite Sky offer: working through the night so that

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200hr Yoga Teacher Training with Sally Parkes BSc Author of ‘The Students Manual of Yoga Anatomy’

• Yoga Asana • Anatomy & Physiology • Subtle Anatomy • Yoga Philosophy • The basics of Ayurveda • Teaching methods & ethics • The business of Yoga • Home study & self-practice Training held in UK & Spain

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Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training Certified by FEDANT and Yoga Alliance US & UK

This 6 day course includes: no classes have to be cancelled. All of the murals are designed specifically for each client, providing a completely personalised service. Bespoke artworks are also available. “Studio owners have a range of requests, depending on the motivation behind their project,” says Tweddle. “Some want their branding colours to be at the forefront but are open to our ideas for composition and form. Others can be quite specific and have

a strong idea of what they are looking for, even down to what country the scenery in their mural should come from. We love both approaches, it is always great to have free reign with a space but equally we enjoy working to a tight brief. And there can be some pretty unusual requests too. “In terms of strange requests we welcome even the most unusual project – recently we were even approached to paint an Infinite Sky ice cream van,” she adds.

• Pregnancy Yoga • Post-Natal Yoga • Mother and Baby Yoga Courses in the UK and Dubai +44 (0)7983 508018 *Early Bird Booking Discount for 200hr TT only

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Conscious chocolate OM catches up with one of the true pioneers of the healthy chocolate movement, Conscious Chocolate creator Emma Jackman


aw chocolate has come a long way in the last 10 years, as has the market for all things raw. There are new raw, healthy and organic products hitting the market all the time. In an increasingly health conscious world, it is a niche that has expanded massively during those years, especially raw chocolate. West Sussex company Conscious Chocolate was one of the first entrants. Its founder, Emma Jackman, said the initial idea behind her raw, organic chocolate bars was pretty simple. “Ten years ago there was no raw chocolate - and I wanted some!” “I’d done loads of travelling - plus lots of yoga, meditation, juice fasting and spent some time at the Eden Hot Springs in the USA with the inspiring David Wolfe – yay! and found that a raw diet is much easier (for me at least) in warm climates. On coming back to the UK and our chilly weather I wanted to eat chocolate…but I wanted a chocolate that didn’t have refined sugars, emulsifiers or roasted beans, one that didn’t have dairy or gluten in it – I simply wanted a healthy chocolate that didn’t compromise taste, and knew that was possible.” What she wanted was a real, rich and raw full-on chocolate that was aligned and compatible with the healthy living that she’d experienced elsewhere. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t any chocolate on the shelves at the time that was freefrom, healthy and good tasting and so, feeling inspired, I made my own. The idea was that anyone would be able to eat my chocolate – no matter what their allergies or diets they were trying to follow because it would be healthy and taste great.”

Early days

And so Conscious Chocolate started to take shape. At the very beginning it was pioneering stuff. “I was the first person to make any sort of raw chocolate and I made it in my kitchen at home for fun and for me, and of course all my family and friends. But it was


om actions so good that I wanted to share this amazing healing chocolate - and the knowledge that chocolate can be healthy - with everyone I met, at festivals and markets.” Of course, it meant getting things just right during the production process at home, the ingredients and the packaging. Jackman kept all temperatures below 32 degrees, using ban-maries, as the company still does today. More importantly, all of the products were created with a genuine heartfelt intention. “I made my chocolate from a place of love and it tasted so good,” she says. All the ingredients were and still are carefully sourced as raw, organic, fairly-traded, premium superfoods. The biggest challenge was to find recycled and compostable packaging – for example the foil is made with chalk which speeds up the biodegradation process.


During those early days, it meant walking with a suitcase full of chocolate around shops in London, Brighton and other locations trying to convince people that it would sell. That’s how the raw chocolate went from her kitchen to the wider community. “I was - and still am - so excited about raw chocolate,” she says. “We were the first raw healthy chocolate stocked by Planet Organic and Wholefoods (then Fresh and Wild!) and are proud to now sit with so many other amazing and inspiring raw bars.” Conscious Chocolate, and Jackman herself, have gone on to play a key role in the growth of this niche - and now booming - industry. “Luckily, at the time I first started making raw chocolate, everyone was getting turned on to ‘raw’ and health which has now become an ever growing market – so the

raw, healthy chocolate and raw health food sector is very exciting,” she says. “Over the years I have taught many others to make chocolate. I even taught Pana Barbounis to make chocolate when he was in the UK - he went back to Australia and of course went on to make Pana Chocolate.” And the company likewise has grown accordingly throughout this period. There are now 18 flavours and varieties of Conscious Chocolate to choose from, plus mini bars, and available in grocery stores and independent health food shops across the UK. The products are also sold online. Despite its success over the past decade, though, Conscious Chocolate retains all of the same heartfelt intentions that it started out with. “We are fairly unique in the industry in that we are still a tiny company. We make the chocolate in our kitchens here in West Sussex: we wrap it, process orders and send them out and do all our own social media and marketing...and as a team you can count us on one hand! I still taste every batch of chocolate made and we all take it in turns each week to do each other’s jobs and we all have kids …so we all make, wrap and send out your chocolate – it truly is made, wrapped and sent with love.” It remains every bit a passion project for the founder herself though, who’s committed to producing the best products and encouraging everyone on a healthier lifestyle. “Raw chocolate should dance with your taste buds, waken your consciousness and feed your body, mind and soul,” she says.

Discover the world of Conscious Chocolate at:

15 natural flavours Free from dairy Free from soya Free from gluten Free from refined sugars Organic Raw Vegan

t 01342 313876

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Tasting sorrow

After the recent loss of her father, Priscilla Dann-Courtney commences a solo journey that will take her to the mountains and to a place of greater comfort in her grief


y father died this summer and my mother is going mad. I was hopeful a short time in the mountains might soothe an ache for solitude deep in my belly. Mountain towns that aren’t too busy or big so it’s easy to find a parking space comfort me, helping me feel like I belong. I slid into my space in front of a long line of tourists waiting at an old-fashioned crepe cart, sugar and spice seducing our senses. I opened the door to a quiet coffee shop next door. My tea warmed my hands as I thought about the last time I saw my father. A blonde aide was feeding him little dollops of vanilla ice cream as he sat propped up on pillows. There were two commanding policemen in the living room trying to make sense of his third wife’s urgent call. She wanted them to escort my brother, sister, and me out of the apartment. She was pacing back and forth, spitting angry words about financial matters - her walker clanking against their white marble floors, ‘tap-tap’. Police scare me and my only encounters have been around


an infrequent speeding ticket. I didn’t like being so close to guns in holsters. They were in green not blue; I wished they were forest rangers. My dad asked us to stay, but he couldn’t answer the question correctly about who the president was so the police wouldn’t listen. I wanted my father to stop losing his mind. I shook as I kissed his soft cheek like a baby’s. My siblings and I obediently left, huddling in the parking lot, like young children on a doorstep.

Challenging times

I did get to speak to him the morning he died. He was groggy from his hospital bed but clear enough to say, “Well, have to go now honey.” I didn’t know he meant it in a big way. An hour later I came out of yoga class, sticky and calm, I slid into my warm car, checking my phone to see a missed call from my sister. The words were tiny…the meaning wouldn’t be. In the year before my dad died, my mother and father wept and laughed on the phone together. They both had lost memory of the disagreements of divorce so many

years ago. I had to tell her the sad news. She answered the phone but without her hearing aid: “Honey, you have to speak up, I don’t know what you are saying!” Having to yell into the phone two times: “Dad died!” was not the way I wanted it to go. My 91-year-old mother is also losing her mind. We’ve had a lovely couple, Harry and Eve, care for her each day - cleaning, washing clothes, fixing salmon and potatoes, walking to Starbucks, sorting mail, old newspapers, and bringing fresh flowers. Until last week when Harry called me and said, “Miss Priscilla, your mother won’t let us in, she is threatening to call the police because I have violated her!” None of which was true but we had to ‘let them go’, as they were no longer safe from her false accusations. Police and parents was a whole new thing for me!

Soothing moments

Sipping the last of my tea I thanked the woman behind the counter noticing a small heart tattooed on her bare shoulder. I walked down the sidewalk, trying to

om actions Monthly put soft cream on my heels and delicately painted my toes an ocean blue – for a moment I bathed in a warm sea.

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Embracing solitude

Returning to my quiet hotel room, I laid out my toiletries by the shiny sink with neatly folded towels. Hotel rooms allow me freedom from cleaning. Freedom from furiously vacuuming – hoping the dust of grieving will be sucked away. Free from rigorously shaking my golden retriever’s sleeping blanket over our porch railing – pretending if her hair no longer flies in the wind, I will have shaken out all my sorrow. Solitude in grief allows an embrace with no one there to watch – even those you are closest to. I zipped up my sweatshirt and walked across the way to a saloon-like place for dinner. Going out to a restaurant alone has always felt special. A few years ago I remember hearing a man turn to his wife and say: “How sad to eat alone.” He didn’t understand. As I was leaving, a woman stopped me in the parking lot: “Can I ask you a question?” she asked with a slight southern drawl. “How do you keep that pretty little body?” I think she saw me wearing the peacefulness of presence, which makes us all look pretty. delicately navigate around strangers, not wanting to be bumped in my sadness - it would hurt too much. I walked into a chocolate chip cookie shop – just looking at baked goods is soothing. With my cookie in tow I headed back to my parking space, finding comfort in driving to the small mountain town where I belonged next. I parked in front of my hotel. My favourite mountain farm stand welcomed me across the street. The bounty of fresh peaches made me smile, their soft skins and sweetness soothing my sadness. The farmer breathed a sigh of relief when the elderly woman in front of me left. He whispered: “She made me nervous, kept squeezing my peaches.” I have a farmer inside. I too gently handle my fruit; honouring the preciousness of the produce. When I walked into the nail shop across from the stand, I was hoping someone would gently handle my toes like I imagined my mother would when I was a baby. When mothers lose their mind, their daughters search for mothering like the small bird in P.D. Eastman’s book, Are You My Mother? The young Vietnamese woman

Towards acceptance

I don’t talk much when I travel alone, and when I do my voice startles me. My thoughts have a quiet poetry about them that sound interrupts. Poetry that strings together feelings, like the salty pain when I was a child stringing popcorn at Christmas. The tiny needle pricking me as I went – it was both joy and pain all at once. The prick of grief hurts, yet the acceptance is peaceful. My evening yoga class continued the melody within. After class I searched for my car key I’d placed under my sandals. Thinking it was lost I noticed it in my hand. How often we search for ‘the key’ outside of ourselves when we actually carry it in our palm. I slept soundly that evening, curled around myself – a mother and child in one. I packed up the car early the next morning to return home, nestling my crate of peaches in the way back. The tender embrace of my journey had sweetened the taste of grief, like finding a parking space for my soul. Priscilla Dann-Courtney is a licensed clinical psychologist (

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Life & loves of a yoga teacher

OM writer Lesley Dawn quizzes yoga teachers up and down the country to reveal their life and loves

Name: Sarah Tite Age: 52 Location: Community Centres, Spalding, Lincolnshire Training: British School of Yoga, qualifying 2010. Currently with Yoga Campus on Yoga Therapy training course Specialism: Yoga therapy, working holistically using traditional yoga philosophies for wellbeing Describe yourself as a colour Depends on my mood: fuschia pink when I am vibrant, lilac when a little jaded and sky blue for when my mood is mellow.

and knowing you can do it, rather than thinking about the pain it might incur. I was elated once I had done it.

Best part of the day Definitely I’m at my best in the morning when I do yoga first thing. I’ll do more physical poses if feeling energetic, but if I think I need to zone in on mindfulness then I turn to the breath or the Gayatri mantra. It depends on what feels right. I go with the flow.

Favourite film The film Ghost comes to mind. I really enjoyed it: so much pathos, love and tenderness, the things that make us feel human.

Favourite meal I love any Mediterranean dish: tapas, meze, occasionally fish. I am not wholly vegetarian but rarely eat meat preferring lots of fresh veggies, and salads. I especially love Greek food and anything that includes cheese. Thrills and spills Well, about three years ago, I fire-walked to raise money for charity. My friend was suffering with cancer and I needed to do something to help, so fundraising seemed useful. Thankfully, she has fully recovered now. I felt the fear faced with walking barefoot on hot coals. It was in November and the grass was wet so my feet were chilled. With the first step, I felt heat on my little toe but after that, walking across the hot embers was easy. It’s more about mindset


Favourite book How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach. It’s just a lovely book and one I keep by my bedside. I’d say it’s more suitable for slightly experienced yogis as it’s a philosophical story spanning ideas and questions around what is real or not real in life – and reveals the secrets of how yoga works and takes you back to its roots. Secret escape I’d travel to anywhere where there is water, be it sea, lake or river – somewhere to encircle myself with nature and where I can lose myself. Oh, and it would have to be a warm place, possibly the Mediterranean. I love the Greek Islands and Spain (hence my love of food from both these countries). I’m definitely a warm weather person. Someone who inspires you I am naturally a spiritual person, not religious, but I am open to anyone’s views on all the faiths. Mother Theresa you have to admire because to work so unreservedly for the poor and frail without thinking about your own welfare, is something special. Her compassion inspires me. Cannot live without My yoga mat, funnily enough. It goes everywhere with me and I have had the same mat, lovingly washed, time and time again, for 15 years. I love it. And it’s turquoise on the chakra colour wheel so it helps me to connect with my vishudha chakra – the chakra connected with expression, creativity and communication.

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the way of non-harming

The language of love The practice of Ahimsa through non-violent communication. By Vidya Heisel


he Yamas (ethical restraints) and Niyamas (observances) offer us a way to live more ethically and more consciously. Ahimsa, non-harming, is certainly the first Yama because it sets a strong ethical foundation of nonharming for all the steps that follow. However, practicing Ahimsa is more easily paid lip service to than actually done. When analysed carefully, it’s disturbing to realise how much our everyday, socially acceptable way of speaking to each other contains seeds of aggression. Hopefully most sincere yoga practitioners do not wilfully engage in grosser forms of violence, such as causing physical harm to another, or verbally abusing anyone. However, most of us have days when we get out of bed on the wrong side, or are moody, snappy or just plain grumpy. Additionally, for most of us, when someone speaks to us antagonistically, our knee-jerk response is to be aggressive or defensive right back. If we had the wherewithal not to respond in kind, it could potentially have a disarming effect on our aggressor, and the aggressive energy could be diffused - but too often we fail in the stress of the moment.

My story

A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I was in a strong conflict with a colleague. I was under a lot of emotional stress and the conflict was having a big impact on me psychologically. I discovered that even though I usually try to avoid getting into


arguments, or raising my voice, when all of my buttons were pushed, I really didn’t have the tools to respond skilfully in a way that was helpful, or resolved the situation. At this point in time I started looking for outside help and began by reading many books about non-violent and conscious conversation. There are numerous great books on this subject and studying them opened up a whole world to me, which I had previously only been dimly aware of. One of the original books on this topic is by Marshall Rosenberg and is called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Marshall Rosenberg passed away last year at the age of 81. He was an American psychologist, who developed a communication process that “helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully”. He became the founder and director of educational services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication. Rosenberg taught non-violent communication in many different countries. He was notably active in war-torn areas and economically disadvantaged countries, offering training to promote reconciliation and peaceful resolution of differences. After reading many books on skillful communication, I returned to this book, finding it the most simple to understand and put into practice. I learned how much of our way of speaking is intrinsically aggressive. And so I have begun to learn and appreciate a different way of communicating, which enabled me to navigate more skillfully in the

Teacher zone conflict I was having at the time and eventually come to an agreeable resolution.

In practice

Convinced that it would be good to become fluent in this new way of communicating, I went to London to take a weekend workshop in nonviolent communication. I have since instigated a workshop with a teacher of nonviolent communication to be held at my workplace for my employees. We very much enjoyed and benefited from learning this skill together. Since my business is a yoga retreat centre, it felt appropriate to introduce nonviolent communication as our means of communicating with each other in the working environment. The four steps or components to practicing this form of nonviolent communication are: OBSERVATIONS: Make a verbal observation about the situation with no evaluation. This may be at first listening closely to what someone is saying, and then repeating it back to them in your own words, with no judgement or evaluation, so they know you have been listening to them. Or if it’s you who is feeling charged, you need to make a factual observation without judgement. Observable facts provide a common ground for communication. EXAMPLE: “It’s 3:00 am and I can hear music coming from your flat,” states an observed fact, while “It’s the middle of the night, and you are making one hell of a noise” is an evaluation. FEELINGS: State the feeling that the observation is triggering in you. Or, guess what the other person is feeling, and ask. Naming the emotion, without moral judgement, enables you to connect with each other with mutual respect and cooperation. It’s important to aim to accurately identify the feeling that either you, or the other person, are experiencing. When practicing nonviolent communication you need to be very specific about naming actual feelings and not confuse feelings with thoughts. EXAMPLE: “I feel disturbed and irritated”.

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Vidya Heisel is the director of Frog Lotus Yoga International and Suryalila Retreat Centre. This December, she will be offering a weeklong retreat on Yoga and The Practice of Ahimsa through nonviolent communication, with Ceri Buckmaster, at Suryalila Retreat Centre in southern Spain (

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NEEDS: Behind every feeling there is almost always an unfulfilled need, so try to uncover what you or the other person needs. State the need, without morally judging it. EXAMPLE: “Because I need to get some sleep, as I am working tomorrow.”

Certainly, it takes a lot of diligence to implement nonviolent communication, but it is well worth the effort. Since learning it, I constantly notice where I falter in my ability to consistently express myself with this new skill-set - then I pull myself up by my bootlaces and try again. I think that this practice deserves a lifetime’s commitment and it offers us a very useful tool to aid in the daily practice of the nonharming of others.


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the way of non-harming

Judge & jury Why do we judge so much? And why do we think that it’s okay? Jessica Livingstone


oga has taught me to work on my judgemental mind. And I don’t say that lightly. I practice this daily and it’s not simple. A good friend/mentor of mine says, “the human mind is a cesspit” - that makes me laugh but I get it. Watch your thoughts for just one hour and notice how judgemental you may be. Notice if you do any of this: “Ooh she’s fat”, or “What the hell is he wearing?” or “She shouldn’t be eating that; look at the state of her!” And that’s all about others. Much of it is also directed on ourselves: “Aaaargh I’ve put on weight” or “I’m getting old” or “I shouldn’t have said that” or “I’m an idiot, I drank too much”…it goes on and on. Subconscious programming comes from day one. I believe we’ve been conditioned to make subjective judgements about every little thing. Think about how you get up as just one


moment in your day; how you get out of bed, the style of your bed, type of mattress, down to the toothbrush you use - all are based on your value system and your judgement of what’s right in the world. But who said what’s right? And why do we think we have the right to judge others – and ourselves? If we’re making judgements then it dictates that we’ll look to things or others to validate them. Material things have become our validators. How many of us (if we’re really honest with ourselves) have equated our ‘worth’ – our place in the world – by our job, the amount of money we have, the size of our house, our holidays, or what we look like? Attaining wealth is the holy grail; we get paid for our identity. And yet judgements are necessary – we are animals, we need them to survive; we judge in order to organise our place in the

world. Unfortunately, I also see a society now so dominated by the corporate world and the media that I wonder how many of our judgements are in fact our own. How many are based on what’s been fed to us via advertising, magazines, internet, social media, TV, books or what our parents taught us, what a school teacher told us we could – or could not – be?

Who am I?

So, how do we really know who we are, what we really believe in, or what’s right for us? Where is our own sense of ‘self’? I genuinely think most people have no idea who they are and are journeying along the hamster wheel of life trying to work things out. The truth is – and it sounds a bit depressing – that people ignore their health at the expense of building wealth then retire and suffer ill health throughout retirement reaching their later years full of regret.

Teacher zone I’m determined not to live my life like that. I’ve made a pact to live it now. I believe the image projected to us perpetuates a cruel and negative take on the world. Just look at the airbrushed reality of many glossy high street magazines that base their sales on that sick, voyeuristic part of ourselves that dines out on looking at a celebrity’s wobbly bits. To judge others is encouraged, revered even. We’re being taught to do it, it’s a sport, an amusing past-time - are we surprised then when our daughters feel constantly insecure and teen eating disorders have increased dramatically?

about the world. I take pains today to help anyone who I feel is being unfairly judged. As the years have passed, and the more I’ve followed the yogic path, I’ve gravitated to the least judgemental, more accepting types - the live and let live people. Moving away from certain groups, however, has meant I have been judged for these changes. To be fair, our values can run deep. As a daughter of socialist parents who wanted to change the world I was taught not to be rude, not to be cruel, ignorant or judge people by their colour, creed or sexual orientation. I take pains today to get to know people, to understand them, to listen deeply when they tell me about themselves. To give them value.

“How many of us have Forgiveness equated our ‘worth’ – our Yoga reinforces this, it says we’re all one, no-one has more value than the other. place in the world – by Inspirational coach and author Tony Robbins our job, the amount of says humans spend their time oscillating money we have, the between feeling “less than” or “better than” others (i.e. we either compare ourselves size of our house, our and believe we aren’t as good as someone holidays, or what we or make ourselves feel superior by judging look like?” them). Yet this leaves us in a perpetual state Judging has become habitual behaviour. Apparently we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. What if 90% of those thoughts are negative, critical and judgemental? We all have a role to play, and I’m getting my accountability in the things I do and say. In yoga, this is karma - understanding that for every action, every decision there is a result. There is great power in that and we would do well to understand it more.

The Ahimsa way

I can judge with the best of them and I can be particularly hard on myself, but I’m learning it doesn’t help me one bit. Yoga has taught me to consistently review my judgemental mind and switch to a compassionate, forgiving state of being. Ahimsa – one of the Yamas and Niyamas – is a code yogis follow about leading a life of non-harming, non-judgement (“non violence in thought, word and deed”). So we work on this as an ongoing process, right down to examining the food we eat. I’ve found it interesting as I have engaged less in gossip (which is essentially slander) and the result has sometimes been that I’ve been ‘left out’ for behaving differently. I know how it feels to be judged, we all do right? When I was 15, life was really tough for me and through that I lost friends who judged me; understandable, we were teenagers, but very painful for a young girl who knew nothing

of unrest; not a pleasant mental or emotional state to be in. So I invite you to learn to live life with compassion. Practice every day being compassionate to others and to yourself instead of judging. Look out for your judgements, laugh at them, become the observer, be kind, be forgiving. If I’m angry with myself or another I often repeat this mantra: “Forgive them lord, they know not what they do”. See how much richer your relationships are when you become more forgiving, see how you shift into a state of joy, love, contentment and even bliss when you step out of judgement and into ‘letting go’. Deep down we all want to connect; we all want to feel connected, not separate. I believe it’s this separateness that is the root of our unhappiness. Compassion is the fastest route to connect with your true self and to connect with others. So take some time out of your day - every day - to sit, breathe, to let go; maybe learn about the vastness of yoga. Take time to connect with your true self through stillness away from the opinions of the world (this is meditation) then get up and go give someone you’ve judged a big heartfelt hug.

Jessica Livingstone is the founder of Wellbeing Yoga in Brentwood Essex (


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Ahimsa & Veganism Vidya Heisel charts the link between yoga, ahimsa and the foods that we eat


ogis in India traditionally respect the practice of Ahimsa, which precludes the harming of animals. In many cultures, though, it is traditional to eat meat; many of us grow up accustomed to it. Indeed, for years, the consumption of animal products has been rising steadily worldwide, partly due to the growth in the world’s population. These days meat is commonly sold in neat sterile packages in the supermarket. Unfortunately, this allows us, understandably, to


the way of non-harming


disassociate from the reality of what may have gone into the product that we are purchasing. As practicing yogis, I think it is essential to bring the light of inquiry and awareness to all of our choices and actions and not do anything simply because we were conditioned to do it. We should question what goes into meat production (and all other food and non-food products) and consider thoughtfully what could be the best and most sustainable diet for this overpopulated planet.

Teacher zone Factory farming

Firstly, reflect on industrial farming, which has led to animals being kept in crowded conditions, knee deep in their own dung, and overfed on food types that their digestive systems cannot handle. They are pumped full of hormones to help them grow to unnaturally large sizes in as little time as possible and also treated regularly with antibiotics to prevent them from getting diseased. Not only does this kind of farming treat animals inhumanely, it also destroys huge swathes of land all over the planet. The Amazon rainforest is being deforested at an alarming rate, ostensibly to clear land to create more such farms to satisfy our desire for more beef production. We tend to think that because we live in the West and pay lip service to animal rights and welfare, that slaughterhouses must be humane. I think it’s important to educate ourselves on this topic. We are not permitted to go inside slaughterhouses, perhaps for obvious reasons. But in recent times there have been many cameras that have been surreptitiously taken in to film what goes on behind closed doors in a bid to educate people and expose cruel practices inside the abattoirs.

“We should question what goes into meat production (and all other food and non-food products) and consider thoughtfully what could be the best and most sustainable diet for this overpopulated planet.”

Other considerations

As well as treating animals cruelly, the type of meat-centric diet that many people in the West consume may simply not be sustainable for the planet. There is an argument that animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, and that it is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. It is considered by many as a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean ‘dead zones’, and virtually every other environmental ill. Another consideration is the harm that eating animal protein might be doing to your own health. Much research in recent times has been done on the potentially unhealthy nature of a meat heavy diet. There are links that correlate the growing rise of heart disease and cancer with the consumption of animal protein. The conclusion is that a diet high in animal protein is not only harmful to animals and the environment – but potentially to human health.

Opposing views

Of course many people will disagree. Sometimes it is tricky to navigate these opposing viewpoints, so it’s important to do your own extensive research. One of my own life passions, as a yogi, is to inspire as many people as possible to make the change to a meat-free lifestyle. I do this not by preaching, but by demonstrating that a healthy, well-balanced plant-based diet is a celebration of life. I attempt to do this every day at Suryalila, my yoga retreat centre in southern Spain by providing a well-balanced delicious buffet for every meal that is aligned with the principle of ahimsa. I am happy to say my ongoing endeavour bears a lot of fruit. !

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Teacher zone Teacher’s Tales:

Clinging to beliefs There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, by Paula Hines


ave you ever had a fellow teacher disagree with what you do (or don’t) teach, or instances where you have disagreed with what or how others teach? If you disagree vehemently with what someone else does have you questioned why? To offer my thoughts on this, I suggest you teach what you believe but avoid being so entrenched in your beliefs that you are not open to change – because if you are dedicated to teaching for any considerable length of time you will change your mind at some point. Related to this, is it appropriate to tell others that your way is ‘right’ and their way is ‘wrong’, particularly if your opinion was not invited? At present there are a number of things I don’t agree with from a teaching standpoint so I just don’t do them. In turn, I am certain there are things I do that other teachers would not agree with. For instance, I don’t teach headstand in drop-in classes anymore. In the context of oneto-one lessons when a student is ready, wants to work on inversions and has no contraindications, then yes. But in a drop-in class scenario where there can be many variables including but not limited to, not


necessarily knowing the students, undiagnosed (or undisclosed) injuries, or people who won’t listen to you in favour of copying the person on the mat next to them, I don’t feel it’s safe. I also don’t think headstand is a pose for everyone. Others may think I am crazy or that I am shying away from teaching a ‘hard pose’. It’s okay to disagree. One thing we can all agree on is the wellbeing of the students in front of us informing what we do. We teach based on the knowledge we have and if we keep learning and seeking to improve it’s likely our knowledge base will expand and what and how we teach will change. I found it refreshing when during training with Judith Hanson Lasater she told how she taught a certain pose differently now and added that she does not teach another particular pose anymore. She said she had changed her mind. How great that after more than 40 years of teaching one can stay open and not be rigid. So, I do what I feel is right but I stay open to changing my mind. Do you agree or disagree? Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (



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We all know how important a good night’s sleep is. In this book, the author shares easy tips and tricks to help you discover the best sleep and best health of your life. With a 14-Day Sleep Makeover you’ll learn how to create the ideal sleep sanctuary, how to hack sunlight to regulate your circadian rhythms, which clinically proven sleep nutrients and supplements you need, and stress-reduction exercises and fitness tips to keep you mentally and physically sharp. A guide to sleeping better, feeling refreshed and achieving a healthier happier life.

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Yoga is for every body Your pictures. Your community Maddie Lines

Hannah Davey in Costa Rica

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Sophie Reed in the Lake District...

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Marzia Stefani in Studland

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Send us happy shots, fun pics, great asana (or bad asana!), big smiley faces, anything at all – and see them in OM Magazine. It doesn’t have to be you doing a yoga pose either. We want to see your yoga life: a pre-class group hug, a cup of tea after class, what you got up to at the weekend, send them all via email to:



Awe-inspiring retreats and ideas for yoga explorers

Sri Lanka style Join yoga teacher Sally-Anne Reynolds for an eight-day retreat in sunny Sri Lanka. Enjoy uplifting yoga twice daily (Vinyasa Flow and restorative), guided meditations and pranayama, all in an idyllic beachfront setting at the boutique The Last House hotel in Tangalle. Feast on healthy local cuisine, take in an ayurvedic consultation, and soak up the sunny vibes, laughter and fun during your stay. There’ll also be plenty of time to explore the local sights, go surfing, lounge by the pool or walk on the amazing Mawella beach. The stunning location offers one of the best swimming beaches in the south of the island. Return home revived, reinvigorated and ready for the winter! FACT FILE November 22-30, 2016 From £970 to £1470 per person sharing double or twin, standard to luxury accommodation, including all food, yoga and meditation. Single occupancy and triples also available. Flights not included.


om travel The art of living Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and founded by humanitarian leader and spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living Retreat Center in the USA offers a whole range of courses and programmes for every yogi and soul seeker. It has won awards for its ayurveda programmes including the Pancha Karma Detox Retreat, which runs this month and next month. Ideal for those seeking space and sweet solitude, guests enjoy meditation, yoga, philosophy workshops, spa treatments, group ceremonies, celebrations, nature walks, and more, all surrounded by the breathtaking natural beauty of the mountains. FACT FILE Upcoming programmes include: Art of Living Happiness Programme: November 11-13, 18-20, 2016 PanchaKarma Cleanse: November, 12-20; December, 10-18, 2016

Island hopping Experience an indulgent weekend on the beautiful island of Jersey this month with Rosalie e’Silva and Alex Dessain. The pair have joined forces with the award-winning Ayush Wellness Spa and Hotel de France in Jersey to bring you the ultimate yoga break. The weekend retreat is designed to help guests relax and recharge through yoga, pampering treatments and delicious food. FACT FILE From £339 per person for two nights stay at the 4-star Hotel de France. Includes full use of the Ayush Spa facilities, and an ayurvedic lunch and Table d’hote dinner at the Garden View Restaurant. Four yoga classes (Vinyasa Flow, Strala, Hatha and Yoga Nidra), plus 55-minute Ayush massage. November 25-27, 2016


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Florida in


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the flow Exploring north-west Florida’s vibrant Gulf coast yoga scene where sunshine and sandy toes - as well as sun salutations – are all part of the healthy living experience


tanding on the pristine white sands of Destin beach, common along this whole stretch of the US Gulf coast, is a must for all visitors to this corner of Florida. And for any self-respecting yogi or yogini then a morning or evening session on the sand, either side of the blistering heat of daytime, is another top priority. It’s true that tree pose is a little more challenging with shifting sands beneath your feet, but the gaze out to the Gulf of Mexico is worth every bit of sweat and struggle as you try to remain grounded. As well as Destin, you can sample the beach yoga life from Panama City Beach right up to Pensacola Beach. This, you may have realised, is not an area deprived of good beaches. Known as the Florida Panhandle, the north-western corner of the Sunshine State reaches up and around to border with the

neighbouring state of Alabama. As you breathe through that tricky tree pose it’s hard to believe that this is the same state that is also home to Disney World in Orlando, or the pulsating hub of Miami, way to the south. Sure, there are plenty of other things to keep you busy around here – it’s not hard to find bars, nightclubs and shopping – but it all seems a world away as you delve into this region’s healthy lifestyle offering. Dine out on the freshest foods, enjoy boat trips out into the Gulf, and uncover a whole world of wonderful yoga along the way with new and inspiring teachers. Whatever you’re into - beach yoga, SUP yoga, aerial yoga, or any other style - there’s something for everyone.


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Paradise cities While the terrific beaches come as standard, there’s plenty of yoga variety on offer for travellers working their way up along Florida’s beguiling Gulf coast

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach (PCB) in Bay County on the Gulf coast is a good place to start your yoga adventure. It’s a distinct municipality from the older and larger inland Panama City to the east, and boasts a vibrant seaside holiday feel. This is a destination popular with American tourists so there are plenty of condos to choose from such as the Carillon Beach Resort Inn ( Staying here means you’ve got one of the area’s best yoga studios Yoga Elements 108 ( – right on your doorstep. Kick things off with an early morning start out on the lake, where SUP Yoga is something of a speciality. Inside the studio, next to the props, yoga pants, books and other accessories, there’s a stack of surfboards against the wall, so you know you’re close to the water. We tried the aerial yoga with instructor Jackie Bell, another great way to view life through a different lens. Aerial yoga takes you beyond the mat into a more three dimensional practice where gravity works to open the body and release chronic areas of holding. The class included standard yoga poses with the support of a hammock


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Jackie Bell

and inversions suspended above the floor, suitable for all levels and abilities. Just a short stroll away is the incredible PCB beach, with endless white sand stretching out, an amazing spot to watch the sun go down, or for a quick and chilled yoga practice. If you can drag yourself away from the beach, the natural landscape in the interior is also pretty impressive. The PCB Conservation Park is a perfect place for bikers, hikers and nature lovers with a network of trails and boardwalks showcasing the area’s stunning plants and wildlife. There are various short walks or take the five mile loop that crosses a cypress pond and winds through a pine forest. There’s more yoga to be found at the wonderful Zen Garden (see page 156) which offers a range of classes (restorative, Vinyasa and more), plus workshops, massage and meditation all in a tranquil garden setting. Within the Zen Garden complex you’ll also find a healthy food cafe, juice bar, coffee shop and niche retail units where you can pick up anything from inspirational books and handicrafts to botanical creations and unusual plants.


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Laura Tyree

Emerald Coast

Destin and nearby Fort Walton Beach along the Emerald Coast together boast some of the best yoga around. This whole area is popular with holidaymakers, mostly from the US, so there’s a lot of condo living going on. In Destin itself, the Emerald Grande ( dominates the skyline, with commanding views out to sea, at the entrance of Choctawhatchee Bay; it’s a popular choice with the families that vacation here. It’s also the best place to explore the fun Harborwalk Village below, which houses restaurants and other entertainments, as well as the marina packed with moored yachts and tourist vessels (including a pirate ship!). Dragonfly Yoga ( is a must on any yoga itinerary. Lots of yoga styles here, but we loved the restorative class by owner Laura Tyree, who is one of the most respected teachers around these parts. She set up the studio back in 1999 and has since gone on to open a nearby hot yoga centre ( just a few yards away where she also attracts a loyal following. Close by is the amazing Synergy Organic Cafe (See page 156) where you can eat well and set yourself up for the day ahead; owner Amy Likins also runs yoga classes and workshops too. In fact, there’s no shortage of healthy eating choices with supermarkets like The Fresh Market (, a chain of whole food stores, or the smaller, The Local Market, selling healthy artisan and craft produce, both offering eat in or take out options. Sunshine Yoga Destin ( is another great place to stretch out on the mat with classes by Kim Mosby, who trained in Rishikesh and returns to India when she can to ignite her love of all things yoga and refresh her skills. Destin Pilates ( is the place to get your Pilates fix although it also offers yoga and aerial classes; and, if you’re with a group, then check out their Aerial Bachelorette parties – a whole new girls night out experience. And if it’s yoga retail therapy you’re after then head for LexyLeah Yoga ( which offers big brands and less well known yoga and athleisure wear for both guys and girls.


Kim Mosby

Roll with it

Freewheeling around Florida means hiring a car. The good news is roads are spacious, there are no roundabouts (but lots of traffic lights) although there are a lot of other cars around. The US grid system also means it’s easy to find your way about. Hertz ( offers a range of vehicle options so you can pick anything from an eco friendly budget car to a gas guzzling American convertible. Just remember to breathe when you’re behind the wheel... and do sort your insurance out first!

om travel Pensacola

The westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, the geography of Pensacola is quite unique with the old historic town separated from the long, gorgeous strip of shoreline by a number of long bridges. If you can navigate the strange geography there’s much to be discovered on both sides. Pensacola Beach is another great place to experience yoga on the sand with some of the big hotels here running beautiful sunset classes. This is a very different location to Destin or PCB, with oodles of history waiting to be discovered. It’s actually nicknamed The City of Five Flags, due to the five countries that have ruled here through the years (Spain (Castile), France, Britain, the USA and, briefly, the Confederate States of America). At the beaches end of town you’ll also find Fort Pickens, which played a role during the American Civil War and was a temporary prison for native American leader Geronimo. There’s plenty of yoga to be found in the old town as well. Breathe Yoga & Wellness Center ( offers a diverse range of classes including Kundalini-inspired children’s yoga under the Galactic Child ( banner. One of its directors, Stacey

Vann is also the founder of the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival, the Gulf Coast’s annual regional yoga festival ( The history of the old town means there’s more variety in terms of places to stay as well, such as the Noble Manor B&B (, a Tudor style inn built in 1905, just a few blocks from the main retail and entertainment district along Palofox Street. Another place to check out is Fish Tree Yoga (, located within miles of the pristine white beaches of Perdido Key, Florida and Orange Beach, Alabama. The studio and grounds have been architecturally designed and built in the Japanese Tea House Style, so think stylish, calm and cooling bamboo throughout. If you’re lucky, head for a guided meditation with Michael Brant DeMaria (, a psychologist, author, speaker, sound healing artist, yoga instructor and meditation teacher, who’s based around these parts. An expert in Yoga Nidra and mindfulness-based stress reduction, just lay down on your mat and drift off into a blissful state of relaxation. As it happens, he’s also a four-time Grammy-nominated musician!

Stacey Vann


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Food for the soul Eat well, live well

Synergy Organic Cafe, Fort Walton

Synergy is an all organic cafe and juice bar which focuses on using real whole foods from local and regional farmers. Owner Amy Likins, a long-time yoga instructor, has been making healthy food for 13 years, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the good life with others. The whole menu is literally loaded with clean-living goodness. Never has a wheatgrass shooter tasted so good.

Amy Likins

Thomas’ Donuts & Snack Shop, Panama City Beach

Okay, I know it’s not the healthiest option on the menu, but this place is legendary, a family business that has been around for decades. Famous for its donuts (obviously!), it also offers a wide variety of breakfast biscuits, sandwiches, kolaches and muffins. All homemade and absolutely delicious. If you need a sugar fix then this is the place to go.

Zen Garden, Panama City Beach

The Zen Garden offers healthy, organic food and smoothies in a peaceful setting with lush vegetation and soothing fountains. A great place to chill out on a hot day, plus it has its own yoga studio. Have lunch, sit by the Koi pond, find shade under the oak tree, or cosy up by the fireplace…there are plenty of spots to find your Zen. This place should come with a guarantee that you will absolutely love it!


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Together forever

Finding togetherness through yoga teacher training. By Victoria Jackson


Om saha nāvavatu, saha nau bhunaktu… May we be together, may we be nourished together…

hese are the words I chanted every morning of my vinyasa teacher training course earlier this year. Each day began with us sitting together in a circle, chanting, meditating, and sharing our thoughts from the previous day. This was very different to how my mornings usually start – with a rushed coffee before I attack my inbox – so given my first day nerves, I was glad I was at my local studio. It was already a home from home and there were familiar faces around me. In fact I’d rolled my mat out next to some of these yogis for more than a year, but without ever knowing their names. Now we’ve spent so much time together I know not just their names, but those of their partners, children and their cats! Teacher training offered many unexpected things, of course, and one such surprise was how close we would all become during our time together. I’m normally quite a private person, not much used to sharing my practice with others: even in a packed class my yoga mat always felt like my refuge, my private island. But during teacher training we did everything together – and I found I loved it! We shared lunch, we laughed and cried in each other’s arms, we sweated together through classes, and during all that teaching practice we exchanged encouraging hugs and jubilant high-fives as we started to find our voices as new teachers. Together we travelled an amazing journey in our understanding of yoga philosophy, of anatomy, and in shifting from practitioners to teachers. When we started from our first mumbled instructions in basic poses with a partner, who would have thought we would


end up confidently leading the entire group through flowing sequences! Baffling anatomical descriptions like ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ and ‘dorsiflexion’ somehow crept into our everyday language. And by the end we were all happily bandying about Sanskrit terms like raga (attachment) whenever anyone expressed a preference or avidya (ignorance of who we really are) if someone had a confidence wobble and doubted their ability to teach. And now that the course is over, I’m finding that the togetherness goes on – even after the chanting has faded out of our daily lives. Each time I come to class it feels like a teacher training reunion, with plenty of smiling faces welcoming me to practice alongside them. We share a muffled giggle when one of us overbalances and we support each other with encouraging smiles in the more challenging parts of class. And as we variously explore our teaching paths, we continue to exchange ideas, hopes and plans. In the months following the training I’m reflecting on the old cliché that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. Well, this certainly isn’t true when it comes to teaching yoga. My own practice seems more important than ever, providing the bedrock for teaching and continued learning – but now I have more friends to practice with when I need some yogic nourishment and some more togetherness.

Victoria Jackson completed the Spiralling Crow Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training at YogaVenue, Oxford ( She hopes to remain always the student.

Sivananda Yoga Yoga as a way of life

“My mission was as much as possible to reduce the negative influence on human society by positive suggestions and a positive way of life.” Swami Vishnudevananda

Above: Swami Vishnudevananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. In 1969 he taught the first Yoga Teachers’ Training Course the West.

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