21 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

As you identify less and less with the "me", you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last!
Anthony de Mello

20 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

Compassion automatically brings happiness and calmness. Then, even if you receive disturbing news, it will be easier to take, as your mind is still..
Dalai Lama

19 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give.
Mother Teresa

18 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

One in soul, you and I

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the veranda,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Mevlana Rumi

17 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop. Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness will disappear. Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something you have; love is something that has you.
Anthony de Mello

16 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.
Mother Teresa

15 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

Basically, a human being is a social animal. So, if you create some short moment of happiness for people, you get deep satisfaction.
Dalai Lama

14 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

I love all religions, but I am in love with my own.
Mother Teresa

13 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
Carl Jung

12 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

I don't claim anything of the work. It is his work. I am like a little pencil in his hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.
Mother Teresa

11 December 2009

Chaturanga Dandasana


Chaturanga Dandasana can be a very strong pose for some people and is often practised in a way that is quite tough on the shoulders. I have noticed in some of my classes that there is a tendency for some students to come from plank pose into chaturanga and lift the backside, causing the shoulders to drop forwards towards the floor. I am not sure if this is a particular style that is being introduced by some teachers or if the momentum caused by this “sweeping action” makes the pose feel easier for some people.

What I do know is I am seeing more shoulder injuries as a result of the repetition of this particular style. When the backside is lifted in this way, it is quite difficult to engage bandhas and use your core belly strength, thus increasing the risk to the lower back. With the shoulders in this position, there is a greater risk of impingement of the rotator cuff tendons, leading to tendonopathy and pain.

In my opinion, it is better to drop the knees to the floor if you do not have the strength in the shoulders and triceps, or alternate the full pose with this variation whist you gain strength. If you have developed shoulder pain and you practice chaturanga on a regular basis, get your teacher to look at your technique as this may be the reason.

Quote of the day ...

This much is certain: when a man is happy, happy to the core and root of beatitude, he is no longer conscious of himself or anything else.
Meister Eckhart

10 December 2009

Yoga burn out

I am feeling tired and although burn out is probably a bit of an exaggeration, my body and mind needs a bit of a rest from teaching yoga. I am very fortunate to do a job I absolutely love… Having a yoga practice of my own enables me to stay in touch with what is going on in my body and to be aware when I need to take a break.


I think people sometimes have a preconceived idea that yoga teachers all wander around in a haze of peace and love and that life’s ups and downs do not affect them. As with all the teachers that I know, this is not quite how it is. We are human beings with human failings; we get injured, we get parking tickets, held up in traffic, etc... . The key is to know when you need to draw back a bit, when you need to concentrate on your own practice and really connect with your inner-self. Compassion for oneself enables compassion for others.

For me to be able to teach yoga, I have to practice all facets of yoga, including Ahimsa (non-harming). I am off on holiday to recharge my batteries. I will rest, read and spend time with my family. I will practice yoga for me, I may even attend a few yoga classes/workshop, but – then again - I might not. I know for sure that when I come back, I will be ready to share my yoga practice again.

Pink Glove Dance

A friend sent me this today:-

“Our daughter-in-law, Emily (MacInnes) Somers, created, directed and choreographed this in Portland last week for her Medline glove division as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. This was all her idea to help promote their new pink gloves. I don’t know how she got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate, but it started to really catch on and they all had a lot of fun doing it.

When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community. Please check it out. It’s an easy and great way to donate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn’t been touched by breast cancer?”.

Quote of the day ...

See God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord Himself. Is it not a beautiful experience.
Mother Teresa

09 December 2009

Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter.

My daughter recently meet Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame and said what a charming unaffected young man he is. I thought I would share a (what I think is funny) conversation that she overhead from a couple that joined them in the room.

Woman: “Look there, that man from the telly”

Man: “What? Is he in Eastenders? Coronation St?” . (He then proceeded to name various TV shows)

Woman: “No, you idiot! He is a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings !”

Think not!

Fortunately Harry Potter did not hear this conversation, but from what I have been told, he too might have found it funny.

Quote of the day ...

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look,
and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.
Rumi

08 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

Within the framework of the Buddhist Path, reflecting on suffering has tremendous importance because by realizing the nature of suffering, you will develop greater resolve to put an end to the causes of suffering and the unwholesome deeds which lead to suffering. And it will increase your enthusiasm for engaging in the wholesome actions and deeds which lead to happiness and joy.
Dalai Lama

07 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.
Ram Dass

06 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.
Gandhi

05 December 2009

Quote of the day ...

The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

04 December 2009

Lyme Regis

I have just returned from a wet and windy weekend in Lyme Regis. The reason for the trip was to celebrate Christmas with family, albeit somewhat prematurely, as we will not be able to get together over the festive period. This year, we will be spending Christmas in India (the tropical paradise of Goa to be precise), where I hope to practise lots of yoga and spend some quality time with my family. For one reason or another, this has almost been mission impossible this year.

But getting back to the subject at hand... For those of you who have never been to or never heard of Lyme Regis, it is located in western Dorset, (approximately 55 miles west of Bournemouth; 25 miles east of Exeter, in neighbouring Devon, and 25 miles south of Yeovil in Somerset), on the stretch of the English coastline known popularly as the Jurassic Coast. It has been given this name due to the amazing amount of prehistoric fossils that have been discovered in the area and which has led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The town has one of the oldest harbours in the country and is steeped in history. Tales of smugglers and secret passages are rife, and it is also the setting of several novels by Jane Austen. The author John Fowles used to write in his house that overlooks The Cobb (harbour) and one of his famous books, The French Lieutenant's Woman, which was subsequently made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, was set and shot on location in Lyme Regis and its surrounding under-cliffs. Fowles also penned The Magus; as well as one of my favourite scary books, The Collector; which I read when staying in a cottage in the town and which scared me half to death.

I was playing around with my new camera during the weekend, so here are a couple of pics of wintertime on the English seaside. I especially like the photo of the two elderly women enjoying their lunch on the seafront, despite the force 9 gale… Oh, so British! I would recommend visiting Lyme Regis during winter, as you can enjoy the peace and beauty of the place. It is like taking a step back in time!

The French Lieutenant's women

Lyme Regis harbour - known as The Cobb

Quote of the day ...

And once we have the condition of peace and joy in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in the situation of hell, we will be able to contribute our peace and serenity. The most important thing is for each of us to have some freedom in our heart, some stability in our heart, some peace in our heart. Only then will we be able to relieve the suffering around us.
Thich Nhat Hanh

03 December 2009

Video: Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell



Here is a video of Joni Mitchell performing Big Yellow Taxi live in concert way back in 1970. Virtually 40 years later... (oeer, not showing my age :$ ) her words ring truer than ever... "Paved paradise and put up a parking lot". I, for one, definitely prefer having spots on my apples and keeping the birds and the bees. Enjoy!

Quote of the day ...

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Mother Teresa

02 December 2009

Quote of the day...

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Dalai Lama

01 December 2009

Quote of the day...

Past and future are in the mind only - I am now.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

30 November 2009

Quote of the day...

A person does not have to be behind bars to be a prisoner. People can be prisoners of their own concepts and ideas. They can be slaves to their own selves.
Maharaji

29 November 2009

Quote of the day...

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Khalil Gibran

28 November 2009

Quote of the day...

The basic fact is that all sentient beings, particularly human beings, want happiness and do not want pain and suffering.
Dalai Lama

27 November 2009

Quote of the day...

But it is his work. I think God wants to show his greatness by using nothingness.
Mother Teresa

26 November 2009

Yoga classes

Here is a blog on yoga from one of my friends. She is attending a yoga course that i am teaching and this is her experience to date. The class is a beginners Ashtanga class, so we are gradually increasing Surya Namaskara A B , standing poses and working with a few seated poses. My teachers, generally speaking, do not offer the vinyasa "opt out" and I now know why; offer the "opt out" for newbies and they will take it... Enjoy this account.

I am holding my lovely yoga teacher of a friend personally responsible for keeping me sane at this moment in time. I am thoroughly enjoying doing her classes and spending an hour a week deflecting negative thoughts and working on my shoulder stands. It is really helping me clear my mind of all the crap, even if for a brief moment….

I am really not very good at it though and I’m not sure I really get it. I have never been good at learning languages and all the unfamiliar words – bungas and triganasna’s and om’s and whatever else she keeps saying are going right over my head. I couldn’t become a yogi. Way too many new words to learn.

I am still aching from my yoga class on Monday. Each week seems to get more complicated and faster – although I do feel a slight improvement occurring each week. I now know that the Down Dog, Cobra series thingy is called a “vinyassa” and you have to do loads of them. I haven’t quite got my head around that yet. I do one and then stop. Because it seems to me that one is enough. Then having realised everybody else is on to the next one I have to do the moves really quickly to catch up. Even after doing the initial vinyassas and moving on to more difficult warrior poses you are expected to do yet more vinyassas in between. She made the mistake the first few weeks of giving us the option to do another one if we wanted. We all just sat there choosing not to take her option. Now she doesn’t ask. We just have to do it…..

It’s all very well to keep reminding us that yoga is non-competitive but I can’t help looking about to see what everybody else is doing. I don’t seem to be able to do one pose without being so delighted that I’ve actually completed it, that I spend the next few minutes looking around with glee to see what the teacher is thinking and what all my friends are doing and to have a little rest and it is then that I realise I’m already supposed to be three quarters of the way through the next vinyassa.

I don’t think I’ve got the right attitude.

She tried to get us to do a “jump through” this week. No bloody way. You have to start in a press up position, bend your knees, come up on to you toes, stick your arse in the air as high as you can and then be brave enough to try and jump your legs through your arms to come to a sitting position with straight legs on the floor. My legs are NEVER going to be able to swish through my arms. Not a chance. You have to be a cheetah to do that. Apparently I can’t do it because I stop breathing at the wrong moment. You have to breathe through the move.

If only it were that simple.

Although remembering to breathe is important in life.

Perhaps it really is that simple. Perhaps it really is all about the breath. “Breathing gets you everywhere”. Maybe that should be my new motto. Although it’s taking me a long time to get used to the idea of using “audible breath”. It seems almost rude breathing loudly next to someone. It’s such a personal thing, breathing that I don’t yet feel ready to share the moment….or pretend to be Darth Vader.

Talk about reducing life down to it’s lowest common denominator.

Quote of the day...

When the doors of perception are cleansed man will see things as they truly are, infinite.
William Blake

25 November 2009

Pose of the day


Pincha Mayurasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Pincha Mayurasana (feather of the peacock posture, sometimes called the scorpion)

Change and transformation

We are living in a world in which things change fast. New technology, new cars, new clothes, new this and new that; the constant need to change is everywhere.

We, as human beings, are being forced to change. The global economy crisis that is affecting millions of people around the world has forced a change on many of us; perhaps one that we might not have chosen.

Money is not so free and easy as it once was. Consumerism is not as de rigueur as it has been in the previous decade: more people are recycling items of clothing; new cars are not top of the agenda; we are being forced to reassess some of our values and change them... Conscious evolution is happening. Patterns and ways of thinking are changing, and this has to be a good thing.

As a yoga teacher I have noticed that the number of people coming to yoga classes for the first time has hugely increased. Communities of likeminded people are springing up and conscious awareness is developing. As a result, energies are changing.

I have worked in the fitness industry for more than 22 years and can really see the shift that is taking place. The last decade has seen the birth of the iPod; people have stopped talking to each other and avoid eye contact; magazines - full of airbrushed people - have been telling us how we should look, what we should eat, what we should feel, what cosmetic procedures we should have to feel good about ourselves... In the words of Bob Dylan “Times they are a changing and we are part of that change”.

Change is not always easy, but small changes we make can go a long way.
Our own actions are one thing that we can change. Conscious awareness for others and for our own behaviour creates change. As Tolstoy said “ Man always thinks of changing the world but never of changing himself”.

Change starts from within!

Quote of the day...

Tender words we spoke
to one another
are sealed
in the secret vaults of heaven.
One day like rain,
they will fall to earth
and grow green
all over the world.
Rumi

24 November 2009

Quote of the day...

I'm very happy to say that my home life is my haven.
Derek Acorah

23 November 2009

Yoga and vegetarianism

I recently attended a yoga workshop at the Jivamuckti Yoga Centre in London. The event was hosted by Sharon Gannon and David Life, both devoted vegetarians. The studio was filled to capacity, so I snuck in at the back and was prepared for a full on yoga practice. I was, however, not prepared for a recording of harm being done to animals playing in the background.

The physical yoga was, as I had expected, dynamic and flowing (even slightly easier than anticipated). At intervals throughout the class, the tape would play describing unpleasant scenes of farming animals. At the end of the physical practice Sharon gave a very graphic talk on the abuse of animals for about and hour or so. She even used the word “rape” to describe some scenarios.

Whilst this was not what I had planned on listening to on a Sunday morning, I did find her ability to link vegetarianism with Patanjali’s Yamas and Ahimsa (not harming) both fascinating and disturbing. So much so that I am still getting images in my mind of the things she described. While I have not eaten meat for a very long time, I am not a vegan. However, I definitely found Sharon’s passionate view and her ability to articulate it very thought provoking.

Yoga and Vegetarianism: The Path to Greater Health and Happiness by Sharon Gannon

Quote of the day...

You've got to drop something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add anything in order to be happy; you've got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings.
Anthony de Mello

22 November 2009

Quote of the day...

By bringing about a change in our outlook toward things and events, all phenomena can become sources of happiness.
Dalai Lama

21 November 2009

Video: Ashtanga yoga jump backs


Ashtanga yoga jump backs in slow motion. Enjoy!

Video: Ashtanga yoga jump throughs



A video of Ashtanga yoga jump throughs in slow motion.

Quote of the day...

You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me. I believe in that much more than doing big things for them.
Mother Teresa

20 November 2009

Video: Cat Stevens - Father and Son



Friday music video... Father and Son by Cat Stevens. Enjoy!!

Quote of the day...

Is not prayer a study of truth, a sally of the soul into the unfound infinite? No man ever prayed heartily without learning something.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

19 November 2009

Video: Ashtanga Yoga Practice on Maui



Great video clip from house of Zen in Maui, featuring my favourite teacher Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams, amongst others. I love watching the adjustments made and the steady pace at which the Ashtanga yoga is taught. Has a real traditional feel to it. Enjoy!

Benefits of inverted yoga poses

When we think of inverted poses, we tend to think of poses such as the Sirsasana (headstand) and Sarvangasana (shoulderstand). These are often described as the “King and Queen of poses”; thus defining their importance in practising yoga.

What is an inverted pose?

An inverted pose – or inversion - is a pose in which the head is lower than the heart. Given this definition, there are in fact a number of yoga poses that can be classed as inversions; some of which are more easily achieved than the poses mentioned above.


Here is a list of some inverted poses:
  • Viparita karani - Legs up the wall
  • Ardho mukha svanasana - Downward facing dog
  • Sasankasana - Hare pose
  • Prasaritta padottanasana A,B, C, D
Other inversions (not usually for beginners) include:
  • Halasana - Plough pose.
  • Karnapidasana - Ear pressure pose
  • Urdhva padmasana - Inverted lotus pose
  • Urdhva dandasana - Upward staff pose
  • Adho mukha vrkasana - Full arm balance
  • Pincha mayurasana - Elbow balance
Inverted poses are said to have many benefits on the body, which include:
  • Giving the heart and lungs rest
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Fresh oxygenated blood to the brain
  • Hormone balancing
  • Flush and drain the belly
  • They both calm the mind and enhance the ability to focus
  • Inversion will give you a whole new perspective on life and give you the chance to view things from a different angle and perspective.
Pregnant women and people with high blood pressure should consult a doctor before practising inversions

Quote of the day...

As we cultivate peace and happiness in ourselves, we also nourish peace and happiness in those we love.
Thich Nhat Hanh

18 November 2009

Art, fashion and yoga

Thought I would blog a sample of my daughter Cally’s print design. She is a first year student at Central St Martins in London, where she is studying textile design. This is her first print design since she started in October.

She has created the image from scrap. The original theme was recycling, so the tree design was created by using old cassette tape and laminating it. If you look closely you can see small flowers that were created by melting old wax and moulding into flowery shapes; blocking my sink in the process!

She spent an afternoon at a scrap yard in Hackney collecting other people's bits of old junk (a lot of which sat in my kitchen for a few weeks) and creating beautiful things from rubbish.

Her final piece on her foundation course was inspired by timorous beasties and depicted a London binge-drinking scene, using colours which - at first glance - would make you think of a more picturesque outlook, but were, in fact, much more ominous on closer inspection.

Art students have pretty hectic schedules, especially at CSM. Projects often run back to back and carrying heavy portfolios and art materials can take its toll physically. My daughter has taken up yoga and often comes to my classes. Poses that open the upper back and strengthen the neck are really beneficial to her; as are poses such as the downward facing dog, where the hands are spread. Sitting down to paint or weave can cause a slight kyphosis of the spine (rounding of the upper back) if left unchecked. Repetitive strain symptoms can also occur in the hands from holding paint brushes for long periods of time.

Cally finds Ujjai breathing very helpful on the tube into Holborn. Travelling during rush hour can be pretty stressful and yogic breathing can really help her to keep calm. Practising Ujjai breath loudly on the Tube can also clear her a space as most people find it quite odd… A good tactic, I reckon. Here she is in the Lotus position (Padmasana), sitting in front of one of her designs.

Quote of the day...

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Mother Teresa

17 November 2009

Quote of the day...

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
Buddha

16 November 2009

Quote of the day...

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
Eckhart Tolle

15 November 2009

Quote of the day...

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
Dalai Lama

14 November 2009

Quote of the day...

If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. Its your restlessness that causes chaos.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

13 November 2009

Video: Krishna Das - Om Namah Shivaya

Quote of the day...

Everything is a miracle.
Albert Einstein

12 November 2009

Yoga and skiing

With winter approaching, many skiers will be busy preparing themselves for the ski season. Although at first glance it may seem unlikely, yoga and skiing have a lot in common. Balance, flexibility and strength are essential for both activities, so it should come as no surprise that yoga can be hugely beneficial when combined with a suitable pre-ski fitness programme in order to optimize preparation. It goes without saying that a gentle yoga practice is a great way to unwind after a long hard day of physical exertion on the slopes.


Physical benefits
Developing all the key major muscle groups used in skiing - such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and abdominals - by practising yoga can have a very positive effect on the body; even before you even set foot on the ski slopes.

Many of the common injuries that affect skiers, in particular those who lead sedentary lifestyles, are knee-related. By practicing balancing and strengthening poses, such as the warrior sequences, you strengthen and lengthen the supporting muscle groups and, in the process, decrease the risk of injury.

Tight hips can also restrict movement on the slopes and a lack of core strength in the abdominal area can also have an effect on your skiing. Once again, many yoga poses work on opening the hips and rotating the torso, bringing awareness and strength to the body.

Breathing

Yogic breathing is the key to finding a mental balance and focus when skiing. Breathing techniques relax and focus the mind, bringing a new clarity to how you feel and think when skiing. Yogic breathing can be very beneficial particularly to those who are new to skiing. Unlike children, who do not experience fear when new to the slopes, adult skiers do! Using these breathing techniques allows us to overcome these sensations and move on in a positive frame of mind.

Poses

The following poses may be beneficial to skiers before hitting the pistes. Some are ideal for working on balance and buidling up strength in the legs, whereas others work focus on increasing mobility of the spine and opening the hips.
  • Warrior I - Virabhadrasana A
  • Warrior II - Virabhadrasana B
  • The tree pose - Vrksasana
  • Eagle pose – Garudasana
  • Seated twist - Bharadvajasana
  • Cobblers pose - Baddha konasana A
  • Camel pose - Ustrasana
Apr├Ęs-ski...

After a day on the pistes, a gentle yoga practice will ease and lengthen the muscles and re-balance energy levels, thus making yoga and skiing perfect partners. The shoulder stand (Savangasana) and the corpse pose are especially suitable for unwinding after a long hard day skiing.

More information

For more information about yoga classes, workshops and retreats, visit the yoga mama website or email her at info@yogamama.co.uk.

For skiing holidays, visit:

www.call-a-yogi.com
www.divaski.com

Credits
Skiing photographs courtesy of Thorsten Jochim and special thanks to www.call-a-yogi.com

Quote of the day...

There are five billion human beings and in a certain way I think we need five billion different religions.
Dalai Lama

11 November 2009

Yoga weekend at Pelham House

I spent last weekend running a weekend of yoga in the beautiful town of Lewes, near Brighton. It was a mixed group of students some of whom knew each other, and some who met for the first time. The group was quite varied in terms of yoga experience, with some people having practiced a lot of yoga and some real beginners. This can sometimes be difficult for more advanced students, but on this occasion there was patience and tolerance abound.

We practised asana, pranayama and yoga nidra. The yoga nidra session on the Saturday night was pretty changing to say the least… There was a teenage party going on at the hotel and Abba and Katie Perry blasting away in the background. "I Kissed a Girl" really doesn't encourage relaxation. Nonetheless, everyone in the group managed to stay focused on the nidra, until someone decided to empty the entire contents of the bottle bank. At this point we all roared with laughter and called it a day…

The common denominator of the weekend was obviously yoga, but many aspects of life were discussed over dinner and the odd glass of wine. This was definitely a yoga treat, having some time away from work and family responsibilities to practice yoga and have some “me time” is a gift we should all give to ourselves every now and again. I will definitely stay in touch with new friends made!

Pelham house is a beautiful boutique hotel in Lewes with views of the South Downs. I would use this venue for a yoga weekend again or for a quiet weekend break. www.pelhamhouse.com

Quote of the day...

I have faith, therefore, that if, in spite of our shortcomings, the big thing does happen, it will be because God wanted to help us.
Gandhi

10 November 2009

Quote of the day...

I believe that it is essential to appreciate our potential as human beings and recognize the importance of inner transformation.
Dalai Lama

09 November 2009

Quote of the day...

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Buddha

08 November 2009

Quote of the day...

The power, when it comes, will belong to the people of India, and it will be for them to decide to whom it placed in the entrusted.
Gandhi

07 November 2009

Quote of the day...

I think in many ways narrow minded-attitudes lead to extreme thinking.
Dalai Lama

06 November 2009

Quote of the day...

I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours.
Gandhi

05 November 2009

Me & Miss M

Last night I went to the launch of the lovely Jemma Forte's first novel entitled Me & Miss M.

She and her family are great friends. She is a bright, talented, witty woman and her book looks great. I am about to start reading it and I can guarantee there will be some of Jemma's fantastic sense of humour, somewhere in the book.

The event was in Waterstone's on The King's Road. It was packed with family and friends and she delivered an amazing speech, which was both moving and hilarious. She is also one of my yoga students and I love having her in my classes. We always laugh a lot when she is in class. I am really proud of her and wish her lots of luck.

The book is on sale in the UK from today, and Jemma describes it as "Chick Lit"; my sisters will be getting a copy for Christmas.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Pose of the day. .Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Quote of the day...

We have sufficient cause to be cynical about humanity. We have seen enough injustice, strife, division, suffering, and pain, and our capacity to be massively inhuman.
Nelson Mandela

04 November 2009

Quote of the day...

Neither my life of luxury in the palace nor my life as an ascetic in the forest is the way to freedom.
Buddha

03 November 2009

Quote of the day...

World economies are always so tenuous and we are subject to so many losses in life, but a compassionate attitude is something we can always carry with us.
Dalai Lama

02 November 2009

Quote of the day...

Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India’s independence.
Gandhi

01 November 2009

Quote of the day...

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose.
Khalil Gibran

31 October 2009

Quote of the day...

So the first step in seeking happiness is learning. We first have to learn how negative emotions and behaviours are harmful to us and how positive emotions are helpful.
Dalai Lama

30 October 2009

Quote of the day...

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.
Gandhi

29 October 2009

Quote of the day...

It enables me to go to bed with an enriching feeling in my soul and the belief that I am changing myself.
Nelson Mandela

28 October 2009

Celebrities and yoga

I sometimes think that people in the public eye often get a bit of a raw deal about practising yoga. Well-known yoga students are often referred to as “yoga gurus” or are mocked for having an opinion about yoga, as if being a celebrity does not entitle you to a spiritual journey or makes you an expert on the subject.

One such personality is the model Christy Turlington. She, of course, has made a living from how she looks. She has also embarked on a yogic path and has studied and written about the subject in a very in-depth way.

Her book Living Yoga is a beautifully written and illustrated. She talks about her life, in what is considered to be a superficial profession, and how it fits in with her yogic lifestyle. She also talks about being a practising catholic and, having studied theology, she has a great deal of knowledge on the subject of religion and why it does not impose on her yoga and vice versa. She has visited Ashrams and attended The Kumbh Mela in India. From her photographs you can see she is a dedicated yogi. The poses she demonstrates show that she practises what she preaches. If you practice yoga you will know what discipline it takes to achieve some of these asanas.

In my opinion it is always worth looking behind the celebrity tag to see what else is on offer.

Living Yoga - Creating a life practice by Christy Turlington; published by Penguin Books.

Quote of the day...

In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all.
Gandhi

27 October 2009

Video: cool cat



Here's a video I saw on Youtube. It's not related to yoga at all, but it made me laugh. Just out of curiousity, my dog is also a keen musician. Must have the camcorder ready at Christmas when he does his Liberace number! :o)

Quote of the day...

What the word God means is the mystery really. It's the mystery that we face as humans the mystery of existence, of suffering and of death.
Ram Dass

How do you choose a yoga teacher?

The question how do you choose a yoga teacher came up in a workshop that I recently attended. At the time my response to this was that it is an intuitive feeling you have when you come across a teacher that you seem to connect with. Having pondered over this some more, I looked at what has attracted me to the yoga teachers, that I still look to for guidance, and why I have let go of some teachers along the way.

My thoughts on this are:
  • The yoga teachers that I really connect with are the ones who have something that I would like to learn myself.
  • They display all elements of yoga, not just the physical asana practice. They teach with kindness and compassion,
  • I trust them to adjust me in postures, especially poses that I am fearful of.
  • My trusted yoga teachers have enabled me to work through some of these poses and move on when I was ready… They don’t look to hold me back.
  • A good teacher for me is someone who wants to share their knowledge and growth with their students and is able to admit that they do not have all the answers.
My yoga teacher recently said “do not put your teacher on a pedestal, we are all human with human failings”. This to me says we do not need to be perfect; the honesty in that statement is very freeing.

I don’t think I need to say what I don’t like in a teacher. It is pretty clear what works for me and I can only speak from my own experience. I do, however, think that people looking for a yoga teacher should try a few different ones before deciding which path they want to take. You may be lucky enough to find the one for you in your first class. Whatever you find, it will be the start of your yogic journey

26 October 2009

Quote of the day...

Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
Khalil Gibran

25 October 2009

Quote of the day...

I truly believe that compassion provides the basis of human survival.
Dalai Lama

24 October 2009

Quote of the day...

We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything.
Buddha

23 October 2009

Video: Ashtanga primary series with David Swenson



David Swenson, teaching first part of the Ashtanga primary series.This clip allows you to really observe the flow of the Sun Salutations. So many yoga poses come from the strength and awareness of the Surya Namaskars. I like the way David teaches the primary series, while it is obviously still dynamic, it is not as fast as some teachers like to practice.

Quote of the day...

Sometimes, whether a desire is excessive or negative depends on the circumstances or society in which you live in.
Dalai Lama

22 October 2009

Yoga video: intermediate ashtanga practice



Kino shows some poses from the intermediate Ashtanga practice. It shows some poses that I personally can only imagine experiencing, but as Pattabhi Jois says "practice all is coming....and who knows what is possible?".

Quote of the day...

Humility is the key to success.
Gandhi

Pose of the day


This is the Bhujapidasana Arm pressure pose.

21 October 2009

Quote of the day...

The dance goes from realizing that you're separate (which is the awakening) to then trying to find your way back into the totality of which you are not only a part, but which you are.
Ram Dass

20 October 2009

Quote of the day...

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Truth is the breath of my life.
Gandhi

19 October 2009

Quote of the day...

When thy mind leaves behind its dark forests of delusion, thou shalt go beyond the scriptures of times past and still to come.
Bhagavad Gita

Yoga video: Elvis - Yoga Is As Yoga Does



I saw this video on Twitter thanks to CoraYoga and thought I would share it with you. Now it is not to be taken seriously at all, but it is interesting that the misconception that people who practice yoga do nothing but prance around making fools of themselves is not a recent thing. The teacher could not be any more English even if she tried!! Anyone for tea, vicar?!

18 October 2009

Quote of the day...

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
Khalil Gibran

17 October 2009

Quote of the day...

If we utilize our favourable circumstances, such as our good heal or wealth, in positive ways, in helping others, they can be contributory factors in achieving a happier life.
Dalai Lama

16 October 2009

Quote of the day...

Religion is one of the most important forces in the world. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, or a Hindu, religion is a great force, and it can help one have command of one's own morality, one's own behaviour, and one's own attitude.
Nelson Mandela

15 October 2009

Quote of the day...

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.
Gandhi

14 October 2009

Loving Kindness

May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
This is a shortened version of a Buddhist meditation. It can be directed to oneself or directed at someone else, by replacing the “I” with “ you” and thinking of that person. It is, as the name suggests, an invocation for loving kindness… Even for those people you may have difficulties with.

Quote of the day...

Compassion automatically brings happiness and calmness. Then, even if you receive disturbing news, it will be easier to take, as your mind is still.
Dalai Lama

13 October 2009

Yoga weekend with Nancy Gilgoff II

Here are some pictures taken during the yoga weekend in Wiltshire last weekend.

Nancy Gilgoff

Nancy Gilgoff and myself

Photo taken during yoga session

Yoga weekend with Nancy Gilgoff

I have just returned from a fantastic weekend in Wiltshire where I attended Ashtanga yoga workshops with Nancy Gilgoff. Nancy was one of the first western women to practice Ashtanga yoga in Mysore with Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) back in the 70's. She and her partner at the time, David Williams, brought SRI Pattabhi Jois to the USA and opened up the door of yoga to the west.

Nancy has been practising this style of yoga for more than 34 years and has an amazing ability to share her knowledge of Ashtanga yoga, as it was taught to her, by her guru, Guruji. As the Ashtanga yoga practice has been embraced by the West, it sometimes gets slightly diluted or changed. Change will always naturally occur as traditions are passed down, but sometimes the changes are not always for the best. Nancy has kept true to the Ashtanga traditional teachings, but is able to see when a western body needs to do something differently to continue on their yogic journey.

I am lucky enough to have practiced with Nancy on a number of occasions and in various locations around the world. I have always found her wisdom inspiring. As a woman it is great to have a female yoga teacher for guidance and, as Nancy is also a mother, she understands the practicalities of trying to juggle yoga and family life. Nancy is an amazing yoga teacher who is able to teach this dynamic style of yoga, in a soft and kind way.

if she is passing through near you, get your mat into her class and experience her wisdom for yourself.

Video: Couple's Retreat



This is a funny clip and takes a light-hearted look at yoga. I, too, have never seen that pose, or adjustment before. Enjoy!!

Quote of the day...

All living beings have the Buddha nature and can become Buddhas.
Buddha

12 October 2009

Quote of the day...

I believe that whether a person follows any religion or not is unimportant, he must have a good heart, a warm heart. This is essential for a happy life, which is much more important than Buddha-hood.
Dalai Lama

11 October 2009

Quote of the day...

There have been many Buddhas before me and will be many Buddhas in the future.
Buddha

10 October 2009

Quote of the day...

Immature love says: "I love you because I need you." Mature love says: "I need you because I love you."
Gandhi

09 October 2009

Pose of the day

Prassarita Padottanasana C - Wide-legged forward bend

There is more to yoga than the poses

I came across this video on Twitter recently and thought I would share it with you.




I really enjoyed listening to Rod Stryker talking about yoga and asana practice. I think the analogy he uses about spiritual leaders not doing great handstands in the middle of the room is fantastic. The way he describes the effect a physical practice can have on our personal and spiritual journey is also very interesting and, in my opinion, makes a lot of sense. Having said that, had I seen this when I first started yoga and was only looking at the physical aspect, it would not have resonated with me in the same way, yoga is so much more than asana (poses).

Quote of the day...

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Khalil Gibran

08 October 2009

Quote of the day...

It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.
Ram Dass

07 October 2009

Quote of the day...

As far as ignorance is concerned, not just Buddhism, every religion recognizes it as the source of suffering.
Dalai Lama

To prop or not to prop...

To prop or not to prop that is the question. Many schools of yoga believe you should not use props in yoga poses, whereas followers of BKS Iyengar are great advocates of using them.

When he first started writing about yoga in 1958, Iyengar said all that was needed to practice was a mat and a space free from the elements and insects (rough quote). The Iyengar style of teaching now uses props more than any other school of yoga.

Props include blocks, bricks, belts, wall ropes, folded blankets and even chairs. This makes me think that Mr Iyengar has given a lot of thought to the use of props since starting yoga in 1934 and now believes it is necessary for some people to have extra help in some poses.

My own thoughts on this subject is that propping is a good thing. I have yet to find a “one-size-fits-all” school of yoga. Our bodies are so different, yet we are all trying to do the same poses. Sometimes boobs, bums and bellies get in the way; but other common problems such as short hamstrings, back, knee and shoulder issues can all be overcome by using a suitable prop.

Props are there to help us along our yoga journey and, like anything else in life, we can get attached to them and may be reluctant to give them up… Letting go of props when the time is right is a an amazingly liberating experience. Those who need to keep using them need to learn to accept this, which is all part of an individual's yoga journey.

I very rarely use props in my own yoga practice now, except when I am doing restorative yoga. I do, however, use them in some of my classes so that pregnant students and people with injuries can continue to enjoy yoga, albeit with a little help from their prop friends.

06 October 2009

Woe is me...

I have not been able to do any yoga since Saturday as I have a cold and trying to inhale and exhale through my nose is quite frankly not a pretty sight. I had to find cover for yesterday's classes, as having your yoga teacher cough and wheeze all over you (while stuffing used tissues up her sleeve) is not conducive to a state of Zen.

Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance is my mantra of the day. Being confined to barracks and watching old episodes of Britain's Most Haunted with my daughter is adding a new dimension to my Tuesday… My son is right, day time TV presenters do talk really slowly; which is great for me today, as my head feels like I have a bucket of frogs in it.

Quote of the day...

When in recollection he withdraws all his senses from The attractions of the pleasures of sense, even as a tortoise withdraws all his limbs, then his is a serene wisdom. Bhagavad Gita

The Yoga Show

The fifth annual Yoga Show will be held at the National Hall in Olympia, London, from the 30th October to the 1st of November 2009. The event is good for beginners and experienced yoga students alike, and has lots of free yoga & pilates classes, children's yoga, demonstrations and lectures from interesting teachers.

For full information regarding the programme and ticket prices, please visit the YOGA Show website.

05 October 2009

Pose of the day


Urdhva dandasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Urdhva dandasana - Upstaff posture.

Quote of the day...

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
Buddha

04 October 2009

Quote of the day...

All sentient beings have the seed of the Buddha within them.
Dalai Lama

Yoga class

Here is an amusing account of one of my friend's experience with yoga, which she originally published on her own blog, Family Affairs. Coincidentally, the yoga teacher with the yoga logo on the side of the car and trying hard not to get stressed out by the traffic was yours truly :o)

Yesterday, I went to a yoga class with a girlfriend who is a yoga teacher. She drove and we were running really late, but because she's got her yoga logo on the side of her car so she had to try really hard not to get stressed - drivers of cars with yoga logo's on the side must not, under any circumstances succumb to road rage.

I am so rubbish at yoga it's ridiculous. My friend's 19 year old daughter came too and she and I went right to the back in an effort to be ignored. You need such strength and discipline. Some of the moves involved lifting your body off the mat with your arms and swinging your legs underneath you to the back. Not a hope in hell of doing that. Then we had to do headstands and feet-over-head things and then I looked over at friend's daughter and realised that the two of us had inadvertently ended up in the storage cupboard.

I really enjoyed it though. I had been to a jumping about class the day before and it had all been a bit too frenetic. One woman even managed to give herself a nose bleed and instead of putting her head between her legs and sitting the rest of the class out she disappeared for two minutes and came back with a thick blue paper hand towel, stuffed the whole lot up her nose and carried on doing the (bloody) grapevine as if nothing was wrong. It was much better to be in the yoga class, trying to keep my thoughts calm and focused and trying not to fall asleep and snore, which I have been known to do in the past. I have also been known to sit bolt upright during the mediation period having completely forgotten where I was. I can't do any of the chanting yet, although I noticed a teeny weeny om-like sound tiptoed out of my mouth whilst everybody else was sounding like a chiming bell all chanting in unison because I knew I wouldn't be heard.

I was so relaxed by the end that I picked up somebody else's socks and walked out without my handbag. Friend had to go back for all her rings which she'd taken off.

Lovely comatose state of calm - long may it last.
Family Affairs - Yoga Class

Video: Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens


Here is a video of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) performing Morning Has Broken live on German television in the mid 70's. I find the song, which was originally a Christian hymn, quite uplifting. Enjoy!

PS: Just love the afro on the guy playing the piano!

03 October 2009

Quote of the day...

One of the most difficult things is not to change society - but to change yourself. Nelson Mandela

02 October 2009

Quote of the day...

Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state. There is as little reason to deplore the one as there is to be pleased over the other.
Gandhi

Pose of the day


Half handstand, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Half handstand

01 October 2009

Quote of the day...

The mind may also be calmed by expulsion and retention of the breath.
Pattanjali

30 September 2009

Pose of the day


Urdhva Dhanurasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Urdhva Dhanurasana or upward-facing bow pose/bridge.

Quote of the day...

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood.
Khalil Gibran

29 September 2009

Quote of the day...

We are human beings, and we have this marvellous brain and marvellous heart, so there is potential to develop a proper mental attitude, through which we can have a happy, more peaceful life.
Dalai Lama

28 September 2009

Quote of the day...

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.
Buddha

27 September 2009

Quote of the day...

I believe each human being has the potential to change, to transform one’s own attitude, no matter how difficult the situation.
Dalai Lama

26 September 2009

Yoga video: River of the Soul by Danny Paradise



Here is a video that I have come across on Youtube, with a great demonstration of ashtanga yoga from Danny Paradise, yogi to high profile celebrities such as Sting, Madonna and Paul Simon. Great locations and postures... Enjoy!

Quote of the day...

My whole life I never spoke one word.
Buddha

25 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Basically, a human being is a social animal. So, if you create some short moment of happiness for people, you get deep satisfaction.
Dalai Lama

24 September 2009

Quote of the day...

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Buddha

23 September 2009

Video: Ashtanga yoga by David Swenson



A great demonstration of Ashtanga yoga by David Swenson.

Quote of the day...

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Gandhi

22 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you too. It spiritualizes people naturally.
Ram Dass

21 September 2009

Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra is described by the Bihar school of yoga in India as “sleep with a trace of awareness”. It is a deep relaxation practice, dropping the conscious mind into the unconscious, bringing you to a deep meditation in which you are awake and aware… releasing tensions. It involves practising the 5th limb of yoga, pratyahara (withdrawal of senses). A sankalpa – or positive affirmation - is introduced to direct the mind. Rotation of consciousness is used to take the mind on a journey through the body, and breath awareness and visualization techniques balance the left and right sides of the brain, deepening the feeling of relaxation.

I would like to recommend a book and a yoga nidra CD by Richard Miller Ph.D.: Yoga Nidra - The Meditative Heart of Yoga

His wise guidance is clear and inspiring, and is a great tool for teachers and students alike. I always feel refreshed and balanced after yoga nidra and teach it to my prenatal students who find that it helps alleviate fears associated with pregnancy; as well as bringing about deep relaxation. Richard Miller has a soft melodic voice that my labrador also loves... He will come and lie down beside me whenever he hears this CD go on.

Quote of the day...

Learn to know yourself ... to search realistically and regularly the processes of your own mind and feelings.
Nelson Mandela

20 September 2009

Quote of the day...

The breath is the intelligence of the body.
TKV Desikachar

19 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Khalil Gibran

18 September 2009

Video: Sadhus at the Kumbh Mela



Here is another video I have found on Youtube regarding the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India. It is taken from the BBC programme Extreme Pilgrim and provides an interesting and more than entertaining insight into the lives of the Sadhus - a term used to describe mystic, ascetic practitioners of yoga; as well as wandering Hindu monks.

Quote of the day...

So the smart brain must be balanced with a warm heart, a good heart--a sense of responsibility, of concern for the well-being of others.
Dalai Lama

17 September 2009

Chakras

Many people who study yoga think that along with the physical body, there exists a subtle energy system or energy channel. They believe that there are three main channels which are called ida, pingala and susumna, and that these run in and around the spinal column, from the crown of the head to the base of the spine.

Along these channels sit the chakras, which are divided into seven main wheels or discs. Chakras are often described as prana centres and are depicted as spinning wheels of light. Each chakra has a colour associated to it and correlate to specific parts of the body; as well as to emotional and spiritual well-being. During the practice of yoga, prana is encouraged to flow through the chakras, increasing and balancing these subtle “wheels of light”, while having a positive and healing effect on the mind, body and spirit.

The seven chakras are:
  • Mulahara (red): grounding, stability, stamina, motivation, self-confidence, purpose, passion, excitement. (Base)
  • Svadhisthana (orange): joy, respect for oneself, release (of stored negativity), creativity, cheer, pick-me-up, happiness. (Sacral)
  • Manipura (yellow): cleansing, cheer, happiness, upliftment, ego, will power, energy, focus, enthusiasm, self-worth. (Solar plexus)
  • Anahata (green): balance, harmony, peace, abundance, love yourself, release (heart related emotions), growth/ new beginnings. (Heart)
  • Vissudha (blue): release of physical tension, communication, peace, healing, honesty, calming, cleansing, express oneself. (Throat)
  • Ajna (indigo / magenta): wisdom, protection, vision, responsibility, understanding, seeking, power. (Brow)
  • Sahasrara (purple): clarity, cleansing, clearing negativity, universal energy, has all colours within it, pureness. (Crown)

During a yoga practice, we encourage prana upwards through the chakras to the crown chakra and the seat of enlightenment.

Quote of the day...

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
Buddha

Video: The Dalai at the Maha Kumbh Mela



I came across this video from shortcuttonirvana.com on Youtube, and thought I would share it with you all. It was filmed at The Maha Kumbh Mela (Great Festival of the Urn), which takes place every twelve years near the Indian city of Allahabad. With more than 70 million people attending (gurus, spiritual leaders, devotees) from all around the world, the Maha Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering in the history of humanity.

In the video, the Dalai Lama talks about the ancient spiritual connection between India and his homeland of Tibet. Hope you enjoy his words of wisdom!

16 September 2009

Quote of the day...

It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.
Dalai Lama

15 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
Buddha

14 September 2009

Quote of the day...

What I believe, according to my own experience, is that a calm, peaceful mind is a very important element for sustaining the body in a balanced way.
Dalai Lama

13 September 2009

New yoga publication: Om magazine

I am pleased to announce that a new yoga magazine will be available in the UK soon. Om magazine will be launched at the Yoga Show in October/November, which is great news for anyone with an interest in yoga. On a personal note, it is an exciting time for me too as they have kindly agreed to publish an article that I have written in the first edition.


Be sure to look out for Om when it is released. They do have a website, which you can visit at: http://www.ommagazine.com/. At present, there are no contents, but once they are up and running, I am sure it will be essential reading.

Quote of the day...

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
Buddha

12 September 2009

Quote of the day...

The practice of yoga induces a primary sense of measure and proportion. Reduced to our own body, our first instrument, we learn to play it, drawing from it maximum resonance and harmony.
Yehudi Menuhin

11 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.
Khalil Gibran

10 September 2009

Quote of the day...

It’s very different because the Indians live as if they are their souls and Americans live as if they are their egos.
Ram Dass

09 September 2009

Video: Mountain Hare Krishna by Krishna Das and Sting



I saw this video on Youtube the other day and thought I would share it with you. It features music by Krishna Das and Sting and has some lovely images. Enjoy!

Quote of the day...

The ego lies in the fact that I share it with men and women, some of whom are more capable than me. That is my ego.
Nelson Mandela

08 September 2009

Quote of the day...

There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always.
Gandhi

07 September 2009

Quote of the day...

However many holy words you read,However many you speak,What good will they do you If you do not act on upon them?
Buddha

06 September 2009

Quote of the day...

There is often a big disparity between the way in which we perceive things and the way things really are.
Dalai Lama

05 September 2009

Quote of the day...

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
Buddha

04 September 2009

Video Friday: Ashtanga Yoga - The Primary Series with John Scott

Here is another yoga video that I have come across on Youtube. It is a great demonstration of the Ashtanga yoga primary series featuring John Scott. Enjoy!

Quote of the day...

By bringing about a change in our outlook toward things and events, all phenomena can become sources of happiness.
Dalai Lama

03 September 2009

Chanting

Chanting is often associated with religion and has been used by all forms of religions throughout history from Buddhism to Christianity. I think that this is one of reasons why some people feel uncomfortable chanting in a yoga class, as well as feeling self-conscious at first. Many chants, especially Kirtan chants, are devotional and this, once again, can cause some questions to arise.

From personal experience, chanting can have a very positive, uplifting effect on you, irrespective of your religious beliefs. It allows the mind to be free of any other thoughts that may be distracting or disturbing you. Chanting with others can also bring about a feeling of belonging and energy is shared. When we chant, it is said that we cut through the mind mesh and obtain freedom from delusion.

I have included some quotes below which I like a lot and which can be interpreted in many ways. I find them very useful for quietening the mind and feeling good about oneself.


“Chanting is the heart practice of yoga. When we are in love, our hearts are constantly calling out the name of our lover. Chanting is that calling”.
Krishna Das

So Ham
I am that (that which is immortal and everlasting) - The Upanishads

“Om asato ma sad-gamaya, tamaso majyotir gamaya,
Mrtyor ma amritham gamaya,
om shantih shantih shantih.”

Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality, om peace peace peace

Here are a couple of Kirtan chants:

“Rama bolo Rama bolo, bolo, bolo, Ram
Seeta bolo Seeta bolo bolo bolo Ram
Hanuman bolo Hanuman bolo bolo bolo Ram”.
Rejoice and sing the names of Ram, Sita, and Hanuman.

“Ganesha sharanam, sharanam Ganesha Jai Jai Ganesha”
I take refuge in the one who removes all obstacles

Quote of the day...

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Khalil Gibran

02 September 2009

Quote of the day...

Day after day let the yogi practice harmony Of soul; in a secret place, in deep solitude, master of his mind, hoping for nothing, desiring nothing.
Bhagavad Gita

01 September 2009

Moon days

In Ashtanga tradition, both the full and new moon are observed as rest days. It is believed that, as human beings are made up of 70% water, we are affected by the gravitational pull of the moon in a similar way that sea tides are affected.

It is said that the energy from the full moon can make us headstrong, while that from the new moon has a more calming effect, but which can also make us more lethargic. Therefore, by connecting with the natural ebb and flow of the moon, we can be more connected not only to ourselves, but also to the natural rhythms of the Earth.


Here is a calendar of the new and full moons for 2009:

Full moon

  • Sunday 11th January
  • Monday 9th February
  • Wednesday 11th March
  • Thursday 9th April
  • Saturday 9th May
  • Sunday 7th June
  • Tuesday 7th July
  • Thursday 6th August
  • Friday 4th September
  • Sunday 4th October
  • Monday 2nd November
  • Wednesday 2nd December
  • Thursday 31st December

New moon

  • Monday 26th January
  • Wednesday 25th February
  • Thursday 26th March
  • Saturday 25th April
  • Sunday 24th May
  • Monday 22nd June
  • Wednesday 22nd July
  • Thursday 20th August
  • Friday 18th September
  • Sunday 18th October
  • Monday 16th November
  • Wednesday 16th December

Quote of the day...

For all people who have found themselves in the position of being in jail and trying to transform society, forgiveness is natural because you have no time to be retaliative.
Nelson Mandela

31 August 2009

Quote of the day...

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.
Gandhi

30 August 2009

Quote of the day...

Death has such great importance in this society that it affects everything. I learned from my guru that death is not the enemy, I see it as another moment. Yet it’s the end of an incarnation and means going on to other incarnations.
Ram Dass

29 August 2009

Quote of the day...

The basic fact is that all sentient beings, particularly human beings, want happiness and do not want pain and suffering.
Dalai Lama

28 August 2009

Pose of the day


Paddangusthasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Paddangusthasana pose.

Video Friday: dynamic flow yoga



This Vinyassa flow sequence taught by Claire Missingham is a great example of how dynamic flow yoga does not have to be rushed. I have practised in london with Claire a couple of times and have enjoyed the way she teaches what could be deemed difficult poses with a soft approach.

Quote of the day...

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Buddha

27 August 2009

Pose of the day


Matsyasana (Fish pose), originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Fish pose, sometimes called Matsyasana

Quote of the day...

Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person.
Dalai Lama

26 August 2009

Quote of the day...

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Buddha

Anti-ageing benefits of yoga

Regardless of what may happen, we are all going to age. However, it is how we age both mentally and physically that will affect our quality of life. According to yoga philosophy it is the flexibility of the spine that determines the age. You only have to look at yoga gurus - both past and present - to see that a regular yoga practice has a huge effect on the ageing process.

The body is supple and mobile and the brain remains active well into old age. Many yoga teachers look more youthful than their birth age and remain “young at heart”, living active lives well into their 90's. The current trend for a quick fix under the surgeons scalpel is just that; a “quick fix” to make one look youthful on the outside, while the rest of the body is degenerating in the usual way. Yoga and a yogic lifestyle allows the body to slow the ageing process down.

How?

Stress is a major factor in ageing. By learning to control and use your breath (pranayama) to help control stressful situations, you are able to breathe more deeply and remain calm. BKS Iyengar puts this beautifully:
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured”
A yoga practice is about finding a different way to deal with stress through postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation. A good diet will often follow a regular yoga routine. Once a student develops more control through the yoga practice healthier, choices seem to come naturally.

Yoga can be taken up at any age and takes many forms. Even after many years of a sedentary lifestyle you can take up and enjoy yoga.

Deep breathing (pranayama) fills every cell in the body with fresh oxygenated blood. Inversions, where the head is lower than the heart, have a relaxing effect on the heart and lungs; once again bringing fresh blood to the upper body and massaging the thyroid and parathyroid glands, thus soothing the nervous system.

Twists and forward bends are very good for detoxifying for the body. Internal organs such as the liver, spleen and pancreas are toned and massaged. A sluggish digestive system (constipation) will hang onto waste matter. Many yoga poses encourage elimination, therefore freeing up the bowel and keeping it healthy and free from disease.

The skin and the eyes look more radiant, the body moves more freely, the mind is active, but not on alert... All of this without stepping inside a doctor's practice!