Getting away from it all for a day

Had a lovely time on retreat with the yogi’s of Brentwood, Essex. Whilst I love going away for a few days, so much can be accomplished in a day and it’s perfect for those people who really can’t take off for weeks or weekends due to financial or family commitments.

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The morning started with building our alter for the day- everyone bought something that was unique and important to themselves. We then began a lovely heart opening asana practice with a heart fire meditation. In the afternoon we sat and read poems and discussed the items on the alter and how to make a sacred space for home practice. We then delved into mantra practice and some pranayama to relax deeper into the body.

Check out my Facebook page or this site for information on the next one.

If you are interested in learning any of the techniques here I teach regular classes in Chelmsford and Brentwood as well as 1-2-1 from my home studio in Chelmsford.

Seaside fun

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Went for a lovely walk on the beach yesterday. The sun was going down to the left and the moon in all her glory was out on the right. Inspired us all to throw some yoga shapes on the sea wall. Brooke and Henry invented the ‘sea tree’ and I lifted my wellies into half moon. Nothing like getting outside to lift the spirits and clear the mind. Where is your favourite place to practice yoga?

Yoga Increases libido

There was an article in the UK newspaper The Daily Mail today reporting that a recent Korean study showed increases in sexual libido of woman aged 30-60 after just 12 sessions of Yoga. This article interested me because undoubtedly yoga does increase libido,  but I think the main reason is not lowering blood pressure but just spending time hanging out with your own body on the mat.  Learning to love your body warts and all is very healing. Not judging the body through its ageing process and letting the ego destroy confidence is also very healing and its all these separate things going on that lead to increased body confidence and therefore greater freedom to enjoy the body in the bedroom. 

I hear a constant barrage of self criticism from all ages of female in my classes; ” my bottom is huge”, ” I feel terrible, I look so old and haggard”, “can you do anything about the ageing process everything is going south”, ” I wouldn’t want anyone to see my body the way it is these days”. We spend so long critiquing our bodies and the way age changes us that we miss the bloom of our beauty. The saddest thing is seeing gorgeous teenage girls on the cusp of womanhood with their whole sexual revolution in front of them, self harming through eating disorders and cutting when they should be excited about everything they have ahead of them.

Anyway rant over- if we put all the time we spent worrying about appearance into time on the yoga mat the world would be a better place and we’d all feel marvellous!

How to build your practice

My cousin asked me recently ” if I had time for just one pose having never done yoga before what would be be?”

My answer was immediate- Tadasana otherwise known as mountain pose.

In the mountains 

“You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;

I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.

As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.”

Li Bai

 

It might appear to be just standing up but get the alignment right and Tadasana will revitalise your practice. Why? It’s the foundation of all yoga poses but its very hard to see yourself in the pose unless in front of a mirror so good instruction from a teacher is essential.

 

Try this:
  
1. Standing in Tadasana raise both arms above your head
  
2.Firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone.
 
3. Rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad,
 
4. Firm your outer arms inward
  
5. Last but not least spread your palms and imagine you are pressing the bases of the index fingers firmly against the ceiling
 
 
Congratulations- you are now in Handstand! Now we just have to build in strength work and core stability and we’re one hop away from inverting- cant wait to meet you all next week and have some fun
 

 

 

Anahata ( Heart Space Poems)

This Fridays class was themed around Anahata ( heart chakra). I love working with the subtle body and enjoy using different ‘tools’ to get in: chanting, music, poetry, pranayama.

Love is such a powerful emotion, it brings with it great joy yet also pain; when you’ve had love chances are you’ve felt great fear, fear of losing that special person whether it be a child or lover. If you have experienced loss of a loved one be it through death or break up there is fear about loving again. All this and more you see when people are on the mat working in this area. Fear comes up in a lot of poses: ‘ can I do it?’ , ‘ will I fall’, ‘ I’m too old to do it’, ‘ what if something snaps!’…. When the heart space begins to open people feel a release of compression- not just on a physical level but emotions can come out too- always have tissues on stand by for Savasana. 

One of my favourite asanas to do is ‘Dhanurasana‘ otherwise know as bow. This pose brings tremendous strength and elasticity to the back and spine but also stretches the chest so just as a bud on a flower starts off tight and then pops into bloom so over the course of a ‘ heart opening sequence’ the heart space softens and blossoms. As a teacher this pose is a lovely one to assist- with just a gentle touch on the shoulders people really open up and it’s easier for most people to get into than ‘Wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mala 101

 

Hey yoga family! Thought you might be interested in day 2 of May’s meditation month. Decided it might be nice to look at using a mala. Having been raised catholic the first thing I thought when I first saw a mala was that it is just the same as a rosary and indeed it pretty much is. A mala is a string of beads like the rosary that is used for prayer and contemplation. A Hindu mala will normally have 108 beads as that is seen as a sacred number in Hinduism. As well as the small beads the mala will be joined together by one large bead ( typically called the ” guru bead”). This bead is never counted; when you get to it you know you’ve done 108 rounds of a mantra, so either stop -or if you are continuing for a set no or period of time stop at the guru bead, mentally bow to the guru, flip the mala around and go back the other way.

Why do people use mala’s? Well for me I  really enjoy the focus that meditating with a mala brings. You don’t need one to meditate but it does help especially if you are new to meditating. Beads are beautiful to touch and serve as a ‘kinaesthetic cue device’- it’s easy to get lost doing a mantra but the beads bring focus and the flow of chanting and twisting is meditative in itself. 

Try making your own mala- you don’t have to have 108 beads- some have 27 ( one fourth of 108) or 36 ( one third). Baba Ram Dass got his students to make a mala using thread from the blanket of Neem Karoli Baba’s blanket- instructions below!

What to chant? I have included a beautiful chant from Deva Premal and Miten 21 day Meditation challenge– if you are interested in meditating it’s a great way to ‘ get in’ and of course the bonus is its free during this 21 day period afterwards you can purchase if you wish.

 

OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVSYA

Translated it means:

 

Om is the name of that inside of me which is aware of the oneness of all things

 

So beautiful.

 

Oh course you don’t have to start chanting Sanskrit. Many people will have grown up with a prayer close to their hearts; like the ‘ Hail Mary’ or ‘ Lords Prayer’ – say something meaningful to you-  it could be Bob Marley’s  ‘One Love’. The repetition, the focus, the clearing of other thoughts as you are just in the moment with the mantra of your choice will make the difference. Play, enjoy, love- and let me know how you get on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditateeverydamnday

The 5th of May is my Fathers’s birthday. I lost him to a brain tumour in 2011: my first teacher, my father, my friend.

To honour him this year i have cleared my puja table and decided to start a fresh Meditation practice to celebrate his being wherever he might now be, I thought for fun I’d join challengeloop for Rachel Brathen’s May #meditateeverydamnday and also #365yoga writing/blogging about yoga too. 

Making meditation a part of your daily life is easiest if it becomes as routine as brushing your teeth, something you just do and don’t think about. I wake up an hour before my children to prepare mentally for my day, for the meditation I take just 10 minutes as soon as I get out of be: go downstairs, feed cats, open back door inhale fresh air, light candle on my puja table and sit for 10. That’s my ritual, afterwards I make one lovely strong cup of coffee and sit in silence and enjoy it. What works for you? Try different things out and see what.

The following meditation is taken from Deva Premal and Miten’s 21 day yoga challenge, when I first heard this chant I felt like someone had seen into my heart and written down the feelings I had about my fathers passing.

 

Om asatomo satgamaya

Tamasoma jyotirgamaya

Mrityorma amritamgamaya

 

Translated it means:

 

Take us from the false to the truth

From darkness to light

From death to eternal life

 

This is a beautiful mantra to sing or just feel the words with a mala. It’s essence is that we are never born and never died- there is no death just a changing of form. Beautiful, enjoy.

 

 

Sianna Sherman Workshop

I was really excited yesterday to get the opportunity to hang out in Primrose Hill at the very plush Triyoga and spend a few hours gaining further insight into the biomechanics of the body with one of my favourite teachers Sianna Sherman. If you haven’t heard of her she teaches online classes on Yogaglow and is definitely worth checking out. I really enjoy the way she uses myth to get deeper into asana- she also paces her classes really well and I guarantee it’s impossible to get off your mat not feeling lighter in mind and body

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching there is always so much more to learn- endless possibilities and the more I teach the more questions I have! But then that’s part of the fun of our practice.  

I feel really lucky to be able to experience classes with great teachers such as Sianna online however nothing beats the atmosphere and vibe of being in class with fellow students and all flowing together.

 

Biomechanics of the body

Opening the thoracic spine in downward dog


 

 

 

Rockin and a Rollin

I had a lot of fun recently with my daughter messing around making videos. Nauliis a cleansing practice that massages the internal organs which aids health but also really empowers the core enabling lightness on the mat in various yoga poses.

It’s actually quite difficult to see yourself doing a Nauli but it does help if you can. My daughter lay on the floor to record – cue much hysterical laughter!

Summer in a cup

Baltic Britain is beginning to affect my mood. Whilst I don’t necessarily suffer from SAD like many people the continued below freezing temperatures have contributed to a definite feeling of gloominess and lethargy. Yoga is a great tonic but foods can really assist in elevating mood too.

This smoothie is like drinking a little glass of sunshine. I use frozen fruit as its not the season here for fresh and I think it probably has more nutritional value due to being frozen within a few hours of picking.

Ingredients

Avocado
Banana
Strawberries and Mango frozen
Chia seeds
Yoghurt
Milk of choice ( I used rice in this incarnation but coconut is delicious)
Lime
Hemp powder 2 tsp

Why is it healthy?

Avocado is full of mono saturated fats that help the body to absorb vitamins.

Lime is packed with antioxidants

Mango is rich in Vitamins A and E

Strawberries reduce inflammation due to high levels of vitamin C

Banana is full of potassium

Hemp great source of vegetarian protein

Chia Seeds has more Omega 3 fatty acids than salmon, a wealth of antioxidants and a complete source of protein

Juice the lime and chuck in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blitz. I add the milk last as its blending to control the consistency. Stop and taste it, if it’s too thick add more. I think it’s sweet enough but you could always add some honey or agave syrup if you fancy it

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