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Showing posts from 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 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