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.

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.

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

25 October 2009

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

09 October 2009

Yoga Pose of the Day: Prasarita Padottanasana C

Prasarita Padottanasana C - Wide-Legged Forward Bend - ©Yoga Mama
Prasarita Padottanasana C (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) - © Yoga Mama

Yoga pose of the day is Prasarita Padottanasana C, otherwise known as the 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.

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.

Pose of the day

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

Half handstand

01 October 2009