30 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:

If someone betrays you once, it is his fault; if he betrays you twice, it is your fault. Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.

29 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

One doesn’t become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable, and therefore not popular.
(Carl Gustav Jung)

Yoga and golf

As those who practice it know, golf can be a very frustrating sport at times. When a shot does not come off as well as hoped for, it can be quite difficult to move on to the next shot and continue with the game.

This is where yogic breathing may be of great benefit. Taking time out to steady one's breath and focus on the present – not on what has just happened or what may happen later – may help golfers to forget previous errors and proceed as normal with their game.

From a bio-mechanical point of view, the strain on the body while playing golf can also have adverse effects on players. Not to mention the fact that swinging a club and hitting the ball with great force may also increase the risk of injury. Some of the most common injuries associated with golf are: back and hip pain, shoulder injuries, wrist problems, etc...

Many yoga poses can help alleviate these conditions. Poses such as the cat, the downward dog, seated twists, the cow pose (and many more) can help increase your range of motion and strengthen your core. Through practising yoga on a regular basis, your game is sure to improve.

28 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

There are ways to learn what's inside you. We have all cried for ourselves a little, that's natural, but don't let it go on for too long. That's a child's way.
(Herold Small War, Yuwipi Man)

27 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?". Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world.
(Marianne Williamson, quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech)

26 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous nor conceited nor proud; love is not ill-mannered, it does not seek its own advantage and is not irritable. Love does not keep a record of wrong, is not happy with evil, but rejoice in the truth. Love is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure.
(St. Paul)

25 June 2009

Sri K Pattabhi Jois "Guruji"

I would like mention to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, or “Guruji” as he was often called, who died in May at the age of 94. He was the man responsible for the Ashtanga vinyasa series, much loved in the West. His take on yoga has touched many people around the world and his famous quote “practice and all is coming” is used by many teachers.

While I never got to practice with him myself, a lot of my yoga training was completed under the supervision of two of his early followers, David Swenson and Nancy Gilgoff (the first western woman to practice with Guruji in Mysore, India). She and her partner at that time, David Williams, took Pattabhi Jois to California and, from there, Ashtanga yoga started to attract followers from all around the world.

As a matter of interest, Nancy – who now lives in Maui, Hawaii - will be in the UK in October to hold several workshops. These will take place in Wiltshire and are well-worth attending. That said, she usually requires participants to have at least two years of experience practising yoga. I will keep you informed of any updates!

Before signing off, I would like to give special thanks to Pranasound for allowing me to use this wonderful photograph of Guruji... Most kind of you and much appreciated!

Yoga quote of the day...

Food brings benefit for some hours, clothes for some months but wisdom lasts as long as the mind itself. It is the fondation of a better society.
(Anonymous Tibetan source)

24 June 2009

Taking yoga too seriously

As I mentioned the other day, I read an article in The Sunday Times regarding yoga. The article, titled Celebrity devotees, designer yoga mats and jumped-up teachers — where will it all end? by Nirpal Dhaliwal, is – to say the least – scornful of the holier-than-thou attitude held by many yoga instructors and students alike; celebrity “devotees” and the use of yoga as a means of showing that one is well off or trying to keep up with the Jones's.

Personally, I try to avoid falling into these stereotypes, although I may be guilty of letting slip the occasional “namaste” or two. Yoga has certainly been of great benefit to me since I started practising it way back in 1994, but I think that, if care is not taken, there is definitely a danger of taking oneself too seriously. This, in turn, can lead to self-righteous and pretentious behaviour, which is just not what yoga is all about.

I will leave you with Nirpal Dhaliwal's 10 yoga no-nos. I could not help but laugh when I read them:

  • Most of them are about cows — and how many cows do you have?
  • Thou shalt not bow and say “namaste”. Even my mum doesn’t do that, you show-off twits.
  • Thou shalt not wear attire more appropriate for Make Me a Porn Star than Ashtanga for Dummies.
  • Thou shalt not wear vacant smiles as proof of your inner bliss when everyone can see you’re a miserable git outside of class.
  • Thou shalt not fawn over the teacher as though he or she were the second
    incarnation of Christ.
  • Treat them like the overegged aerobics instructors that they really are.
  • Thou shalt not loudly complain in class about your aches and pains as a form of bragging.
  • Thou shalt not thrust thy buttocks to impress the guy next to you.
  • Thou shalt not turn up earlier than everyone else just to admire thyself in the mirror.
  • Thou shalt not have Om tattoos. When was the last time you saw an Indian with a tattoo of Jesus?
  • Thou shalt not call yourself “yogis”. So what if you can do a headstand?

Nirpal Dhaliwal's 10 yoga no-nos. Celebrity devotees, designer yoga mats and jumped-up teachers — where will it all end? Sunday Times, May 31, 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.


23 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.
(Mahatma Gandhi)

22 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.
(Anonymous source)

21 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

God dwells in the heart of all being, Arjuna, thy God dwells in thy heart. And his power of wonder moves all things - puppets in a play of shadows - whirling them onwards on the stream of times.

(The Bhagavad Gita)

Ashtanga Yoga Opening Chant

Following a recent article in the Sunday Times magazine, where the journalist suggested that a lot of people have no idea what they are chanting in their yoga class, here is the Sanskrit version of the Ashtanga Yoga Opening Chant along with the English translation. Enjoy!!

vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarshita svatma sukhava bodhe
nih shreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohashantyai
abahu purusakaram
shankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra shirasam shvetam
pranamami patanjalim

The opening chant translated to English:

I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
The awakening happiness of one’s own self revealed,
Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads white,
To Patanjali, I salute.

20 June 2009

What is yoga?

Most of the people who follow this blog will already know what yoga is. However, I am aware that this is not always the case... To some, yoga may sound vaguely familiar, others may have some misconceptions regarding the matter; whereas some may have never heard about it before.

To fully understand what yoga is, there are a wealth of resources available, with numerous books, videos and DVD's available in high street stores; and now, thanks to the internet, there are also a large number of websites that offer immediate answers at the click of a button. For time and space reasons, it is impossible for me to explain in great detail what yoga is in a single post. Therefore, I will try to cover the basic notions of yoga in the simplest way possible and hopefully, in the process, clear up and doubts and/or misconceptions that you may have about the matter.


Yoga is an ancient form of physical movement which originates from Indian culture and philosophy, regarded as a divine science of life, revealed to enlightened sages through meditation. Archaeological finds in the Indus Valley, dating back to circa 3000 BC, show yogic postures and, as-of-yet, are the earliest known proof of the origins of yoga. Yoga is also referred to in The Vedas, The Mahabharata and The Upanishads. The Yogic science arose at the beginning of human civilization and was gradually evolved and developed by ancient sages throughout the world. There are some traditions that believe that yoga was a divine gift that was given to mankind to help realize it's divine nature.

Is it a religion?

Yoga is not, as widely believed, a religion, but rather has developed over many centuries as a means of strengthening and energizing the physical body. Yoga is often perceived as being a spiritual activity, and - although it is linked to both Hinduism and Buddhism - the real aim is to achieve a sense of physical and mental well-being.

What does it involve?

The word yoga derives from Sanksrit, meaning unite. It involves the practice of a series of physical exercises that are aimed towards - as I have already mentioned - bringing about a greater state of physical and mental well-being. These exercises are of several different types: asana (poses or postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation, to name but a few.

Good fun and good for your health...

There are many benefits to practicing yoga on a regular basis, be it for recreational or health reasons. Yoga can be practiced at different levels of intensity, making it suitable for almost everybody. Just to highlight the health benefits of practicing yoga, in recent times, medical science has started paying attention to its therapeutic effects. Studies have shown that certain poses effectively relieve high blood pressure and that regular practice can help a variety of ailments such as: arthritis, sclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose veins, cardiac conditions and women's health problems.

Yoga quote of the day

"Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself".
(Chief Indian Seatle)

19 June 2009

Creative yoga workshop – Saturday 27th June 2009 2-4pm

I am pleased to announce that I will be holding a creative yoga workshop on Saturday 27th June 2009 (2-4pm) at The Studio in Putney. The workshop - which is based on the creative surya namaskars - is a flowing vinyasa sequence, creating internal heat and strengthening, detoxifying and balancing the body. The sequence will include arm balancing and back bending and is ideal if you like flowing, yet challenging, yoga. The practice will conclude with a guided meditation. Cost £25.00.

If you would like more information about this workshop, please visit the creative workshop newsletter on the yoga mama website. Please note that there are limited places on the workshop, so to reserve yours please contact yoga mama at info@yogamama.co.uk.

The workshop will be held at The Studio, which is located just off Putney High Street (next to Sainsbury's). Address: The Studio, 10 Werter Road, London SW15.

Yoga quote of the day

"This calm steadiness of the senses is called yoga. Then one should become watchful, becomes yoga comes and go".
(Katha Upanishad)

18 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day

"Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked".
(The yoga sutras of Patanjali)

17 June 2009

Yoga quote of the day...

"Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. "

(Hatha Yoga Pradipika)

Yoga quotes

I would like to start sharing some of my favourite quotes with you all; of course, providing the source wherever possible, as I do not want to be accused of plagiarism :o) These quotes are quite an ecclectic mix of Eastern and Western spiritualism, philosophy and - why not - from inspirational contemporary figures that have come to earn some kind of importance to me. I will try to publish one each day, although for reasons of time, this may not always be possible. As a matter of interest, if you have any favourite yoga-related quotes, I would love to hear them.

09 June 2009

Yoga and Asthma

Studies have shown that practising yoga on a regular basis can have a very positive effect on asthmatics. Yogic breathing exercises the lungs and encourages a full diaphragmatic breath. Learning to breathe deeply in a calm controlled way, helps to reduce symptoms when they arise.

Many yoga poses bring relief to the thoracic area (upper back and chest). Twisting and some back bending, lengthen and open these tight areas, caused by shallow breathing and wheezing .

On a personal note, I found that as an asthmatic myself - and having had a respiratory arrest - yoga transformed my life and enabled me to drastically reduce prescribed medication.

Always seek your doctors advise before adjusting your medication.

05 June 2009

Yoga Spine

Yoga spine is a rehabilitation class devised by Clive and Cherie Lathey. This is a class aimed at people moving on from treatment and pain, into a physical plan of action to assist their recovery. The class will concentrate on posture and alignment and will incorporate all the core muscle groups, bringing strength and mobility to the body. If you are interested in this course, send Cherie an email to info@yogamama.co.uk or, alternatively, to the Putney Clinic at info@putneyclinic.co.uk

Who is yoga mama...?

yoga mama is the yoga company set up by Cherie Lathey, who has spent the past 20 years working in the fitness industry as a gym instructor and personal trainer, and has worked for the Lawn Tennis Association at the Wimbledon qualifiers since 1993, providing warm-up exercises for the ball boys and girls. She started practising yoga on a regular basis in 1994, after attending a workshop run by David Swenson. The physical and spiritual nature of yoga enhanced her flexibility, strength and balance so much that she decided to train to become a yoga teacher.

Her journey as a trainee took her to the It's Yoga School in San Francisco, California; where she earned the International Yoga Alliance qualification under the guidance of Larry Schultz, an Astanga yoga teacher. Since qualifying, Cherie has furthered her knowledge by travelling to India and attending many workshops in several disciplines. She has had the privilege of gaining insight from many great teachers such as Nancy Gilgoff and John Friend. Cherie gained her pregnancy yoga knowledge and qualification with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli through The Life Centre in London.

Cherie’s classes reflect her experience and background. She continues to teach in many leading clubs and her clients range from Hollywood actresses to care in the community classes. She is a qualified masseur, a Reiki II practitioner and is also joint director of the Putney Clinic in London.

Namaste to the yoga mama blog...

Welcome to the yoga mama blog. Yoga mama is a company set up by Cherie Lathey, an internationally qualified registered yoga teacher, that offers general yoga classes and workshops; as well as yoga classes for pregnant women and fitness for new mums in and around the Putney area in south-west London.

For more information about class times and scheduled workshops, please visit the yoga mama website at www.yogamama.co.uk.