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Showing posts from 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

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

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

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

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…

Yoga burn out

Padmasana - Lotus position, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. 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 …

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?”.

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

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

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 UN…

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

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...

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

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 s…

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 wo…

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 mi…

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

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 wallArdho mukha svanasana - Downward facing dogSasankasana - Hare posePrasaritta padottanasana A,B, C, DOther inversions (not usually for beginners) include:
Halasana - Plough pose.Karnapidasana - Ear pressure poseUrdhva padmasana - Inverted lotus poseUrdhva dandasana - Upward staff poseAdho mukha vrkasana - Full arm balancePincha mayurasana - Elbow balanceInverted poses are said to have many benefits on the bo…

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 h…

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 strengthe…

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 obv…

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

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Pose of the day. .Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

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 photograph…

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)

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 adm…

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.

Pose of the day

Bhujapidasana Arm pressure pose, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.
This is the Bhujapidasana Arm pressure pose.

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

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?!

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

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.

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 Nan…

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

Pose of the day

Prassarita Padottanasana C - Wide-legged forward bend, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. 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

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 hamstrin…

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.

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.

Pose of the day

Urdhva dandasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Urdhva dandasana - Upstaff posture.

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 head…

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!

Pose of the day

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

Pose of the day

Urdhva Dhanurasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Urdhva Dhanurasana or upward-facing bow pose/bridge.

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

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 …

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.