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.

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.

27 August 2009

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.

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.


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!

25 August 2009

Quote of the day...

Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images. And should you open your ears, and listen, you would your one voice in all voices.
Khalil Gibran

24 August 2009

Pose of the day

Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Cobra pose, otherwise known as the Bhujangasana.

Quote of the day...

There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.

23 August 2009

Pose of the day

Eagle pose (Garudasana), originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Eagle pose, sometimes referred to as the Garudasana.

Quote of the day...

The most exquisite paradox… as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can't have it. The minute you don't want power, you'll have more than you ever dreamed possible.
Ram Dass

22 August 2009

Pose of the day

This is the Half moon pose, sometimes called the Ardhachandrasana.

Quote of the day...

You did so in the full understanding that the American dream is a dream that all the world's people deserve; that a new world is in the making in which humanity should be united in its diversity of race, gender, language and religion.
Nelson Mandela

21 August 2009

Video Friday: advanced yoga demo

I have found this fantastic video on Youtube. It is an amazing demonstration of advanced flow yoga, definitely not for the faint-hearted. He must have many years experience under his belt... As they say on the TV, do not try this at home!

Pose of the day

Gate pose (Parighasana), originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Gate pose, sometimes referred to as Parighasana.

Quote of the day...

What we think, we become.

18 August 2009

Pose of the day

This is the Upside Down Lotus pose, also known as the Urdhva Padmasana.

Quote of the day...

Through awareness, you get a certain attitude. That's the way, you see, to achieve more peaceful, more compassion, more friendship through that way.
Dalai Lama

14 August 2009

Video Friday

Seeing as though it is Friday, I thought I would post something different; a video featuring live music from Ravi Shankar, one of India's best known musicians, that I have come across on Youtube. The clip was recorded live at The Concert For Bangladesh in August 1971 to an audience of some 400,000 people in Madison Square Garden in New York. The event was organised by ex-Beatle, George Harrison, and Ravi Shankar in order to raise money for newly independent Bangladesh, which had been struck by war and natural disasters.

In the clip, you can hear the Indian music part of the show, with Ravi Shankar playing the sitar, accompanied by other well known Indian musicians. I do not profess to being an expert on Indian music, but the performance is quite amazing and, of course, is great for practising yoga to. In my humble opinion, it is well worth watching.

Pose of the day

This is the seated twist, otherwise called the Bharadvajasana.

13 August 2009

12 August 2009

Pose of the day

Upavishta konasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

This is the Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend pose, sometimes called the Upavishta konasana.

Quote of the day...

Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images. And should you open your ears, and listen, you would your one voice in all voices.
(Khalil Gibran)

09 August 2009

Pose of the day

This is the Firefly pose, also known as Tittibhasana.

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)

08 August 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)

07 August 2009

Ashtanga yoga video

Here is another ashtanga yoga video I have come across on Youtube. The poses demonstrated in the video are superb, the music is very relaxing and the locations (it was shot in India) are quite breathtaking. Highly recommendable!

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)

06 August 2009

Bikram yoga

My introduction to Bikram yoga was at the Funky Door Studio in San Fransico. I arrived with my friend and was warmly welcomed by the teacher, who called me by my first name - via a microphone headset - from the front of the class throughout the practice. The class was full of young scantily-clad yoga students, who all appeared to know the 26 poses in the Bikram series.

Before the yoga session starts a towel is placed on your yoga mat. The reason why becomes apparent very soon as the room is heated to sauna temperature and the sequence is commenced with a breathing practice (prananyama). In that first class my friend and I must have hit the floor at least five times to escape the heat. I found it amazing that anyone could stay on their feet for the duration of the class; the heat was so intense that I started to feel quite dizzy. As I looked around the classroom from my new position on the floor, I could see people standing in pools of sweat (hence the towels on the mat). It is, therefore, no surprise that you are encouraged to drink water throughout after the initial warm up poses.

As a yoga teacher I did not find the 26 poses used in this series particularly demanding, as I had come across most of them previously. What I did find difficult, and still do, is the intense heat in which the yoga is practised. I left the studio looking like a beetroot; a look that stayed with me for quite some time, much to the amusement of several of my fellow students.

Since then, I have attended Bikram yoga sessions here in London on a number of occasions. My yoga students often ask me what I think of this style and I always suggest that they give it a go. Bikram yoga does appeal to a lot of people and the only way to find a practice that suits your needs, is to try different styles.

From a personal point of view, the heat is a huge distraction from the yoga. Teachers often encourage students to push back and go deeper into poses, which – for inexperienced yoga students – can be quite daunting, and may unintentionally give the class a quite competitive feel. I think that lack of inversions (having the head lower than the hear) does not make this a very well-balanced yoga practice. The use of mirrors in the studio and the encouragement to look at your poses in the mirrors is, once again, something that I find quite difficult about Bikram. My understanding is that yoga is a “journey within”, by which I mean that you should feel your poses from the inside, rather than worry excessively about what you or your poses look like; something that I transmit to students when teaching.

All in all, people turn to yoga for a wide variety of reasons. Bikram may be suitable for some people's needs, but it is very - perhaps excessively - physical and there is less emphasis on the spiritual aspects of yoga as well. Ashtanga yoga can be physically demanding but, in my opinion, it is a more complete form of yoga.

Yoga quote of the day...

A good man does not give orders, but leads by example.

05 August 2009

Recommended yoga reading: Moola Bandha

For those of you who would like to further your knowledge of yoga, I would like to recommend the following book: Moola Bandha (The Master Key) by Swami Buddhananda, published by the Bihar School of Yoga.

The book is suitable for any yoga student who would like to understand more about the effects of the bandhas in a yoga practice. It is a fascintating read, describing how to use the bandhas in order to activate the arousal of Kundalini, the primal energy within.

The three bandhas are the Jalandhara or throat lock, Uddiyana or abdomen lock and the Moola, perineum or root lock. There is a fourth bandha, which is a combination of the three, called maha bandha.

Very little has been written about the ancient practice of bandhas. This book has a theoretic and practical approach to the use of bandhas, as well as covering pranic and psychotherapeutic aspects of using these locks. Practical advice is given in order to help you to find and use them effectively.

Yoga quote of the day...

As the bee takes the essence of the flower... Without destroying its beauty & perfume... So wander in life.

04 August 2009

Video: Ashtanga yoga with David Swenson

After the other day's laughing yoga video, I thought I would post another video (serious this time) showing Asthanga yoga expert, David Swenson, in action. It is a quite amazing display!

Yoga quote of the day...

My religion is very simple-my religion is kindness.
(Dalai Lama)

03 August 2009

02 August 2009

Laughing yoga

Here is an amusing video I have found on Youtube titled Laughing Yoga. It is not to be taken at all seriously, but the laughter (especially the anti-stress yoga) is rather contagious. Sorry about the poor quality sound, by the way... but enjoy!

Yoga pose of the day

This pose is a Reverse Warrior II Variation.

Yoga quote of the day...

The real act of discovery is not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.
(Marcel Proust)