I’m a firm believer that yoga really can and should be available for everyone, regardless of age or ability. So, I’m feeling pretty pleased that LIM has made the local press with an article about Chair Yoga or ‘Choga’ as I call it. This group began over 2 years ago and we’re still going strong with many of the chogis having been with me from the start. It’s one of the most uplifting and inspiring classes I am lucky enough to teach and I’ve seen the difference, both mentally and physically that yoga has brought. I’ve recently started teaching yoga for palliative care at a local hospice and, what’s so wonderful is to see both staff and patients getting involved together. Proof positive that yoga is something everyone can access and enjoy.
Happy Easter! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I gave up my old life to start my new life on the mat. Easter in the Christian tradition is a time of celebration; Lenten abstinence is over and we can enjoy the delights of chocolate once more!! Easter this year is looking particularly beautiful, abounding with the colours of spring flowers, blossoming in the unexpected but, oh so welcome warm sunshine.
On the mat, I can feel my body wanting to shake off the winter gloom as I approach my practice with renewed energy and vigour. I’ve been incorporating invigorating sun salutes into my classes and was delighted to discover this wonderful, meditative music to accompany them. The steady chant soothes the mind, just as the flowing sequence gently warms the body, easing us from our winter hibernation. Enjoy.
I had 2 new lovely yogis to my class today. I first met them some years ago when we all went on our first retreat together with a fellow yoga teacher. They have been attending her rather more fast passed Vinyasa flow classes for some time but decided to mix it up and join me today. The theme was ‘Simplicity’ and I’d designed a sweet, simple practice where the challenge was to stay present and fully focussed, even when we slowed things right down. So far, so good. However, as I went through the class, there was a niggle of doubt at the back of my mind that they would be bored with my slow paced offering.
At the end as we all gathered for our usual leisurely Sunday goodbyes, I found myself apologising for my slow flow class when they were perhaps used to a more vigorous pace. ‘But, it was lovely’ was the response from one, while the other declared that he found slower classes more challenging than speedier ones. Afterwards, I began to mull over why I still feel the need to somehow justify my style. While I can and often do, plan a fast paced class, I find myself increasingly drawn to the slow side. I love my Feel Good Friday restorative classes where I can see the group begin to release the tensions of the week as they surrender into bolsters, blankets and pillows. I can hear their breath getting deeper and longer and the energy in the room tangibly shifts gear from fifth to first as we gradually put the brakes on.
My husband’s meditation teacher uses a wonderful expression at the start of each session. ‘Give yourself permission to switch off from an increasingly busy and noisy world’.
One of the lovely yogis who regularly attends my classes came up at the end of our practice last week to tell me that yoga was her ‘oasis’. What a wonderful way to describe it. To me, an oasis is a haven where we can take rest and restore ourselves before restarting our journey, refreshed and rejuvenated.
So, no more apologies for taking things slow. After all, it was the tortoise who won the race.
After the festivities of Christmas and the parties to see in 2017, January can be a bit of a let down. With grey skies and dreary weather, it’s little wonder that many of us get a case of the ‘mean reds’ as Holly Golightly, one of my favourite literary characters, would say. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, we then throw in the added pressure of New Year resolutions.
I read an interesting article recently which said that only 8% of us manage to maintain our well intentioned resolutions beyond February. Before you get too disheartened and throw in the towel, there was a glimmer of hope. The key to being in that magical 8% is to think carefully before setting your intentions for the year. Too many fail as they are simply unrealistic or too nebulous. Setting out to ‘be a better person’; ‘be happier’ or aiming to ‘run a marathon’ when your only experience of running is to catch a bus are, on balance, not the wisest of choices.
Instead, following a few simple rules boosts your chance of success so, here you go!
Top tips for success;
- Be realistic. Small steps towards your ultimate goal are far more likely to be successful. Remember, a journey starts with a single step!
- Be specific.
- Tell family and friends to enlist their support.
- Set milestones along the way and celebrate success!
- Don’t give up. If you experience a set back, start afresh with renewed vigour.
And for me? I have made the same resolution for the past few years and, on the whole, I’ve managed to keep it. Every night, before I go to sleep, I recall 3 things that I’m grateful for. Sounds easy? Believe me, I too have days when 3 good things can seem a challenge! But, that’s why I do it. Even on a bad day, there’ll be something which I should give thanks for. Having just come back from a wonderful trip to Mexico where I was welcomed with such warmth, openness and genuine hospitality, my gratitude cup currently runneth over. I’m going to hold these memories in my heart and recall them when the grey days of January threaten to overwhelm me.
Whatever your intentions for 2017, I wish you peace, health and happiness (and good luck at being in that 8% come February!)
Autumn is bringing shorter days and changeable weather, exposing us to qualities that are light, dry, cold, mobile, subtle and rough. Ayurveda explains that when vata dosha dominates, these qualities are present. Ayurveda refers to autumn and early winter as the vata season.
Ayurveda is an ancient science based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Ayurveda recognizes the elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. According to Ayurveda, these five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas. Ether and air form vata dosha. Fire and water make up pitta dosha. Water and earth create kapha dosha.
Under the influence of vata’s ether and air contributions, you can feel light, carefree and creative or spacey, scattered, and unstable. The etheric nature of vata creates a sense of space, in which you may feel free or lost. The airy aspect of vata can inspire productivity or promote anxiety. Ayurveda teaches that like increases like. If you are dominantly vata by nature or are consistently influenced by vata, you are more likely to experience the negative effects of excess vata during the vata season.
As the external environment changes during the vata season, your internal environment can experience the same type of changes; dry leaves, dry skin; crackly leaves, crackly joints; shorter days, shorter attention span; colder days, colder extremities, windy days, windy bowels. The qualities of vata dosha are found in the disorders that are common at this time of year. By observing the processes of Mother Nature, you can better understand the processes of your body, mind and spirit.
Applying the Ayurvedic principle that opposite actions create balance, you can maintain balance during the vata season by emphasizing lifestyle and food choices that are grounding, stabilizing, warming, moisturizing and softening. You can stay calm and connected in this whirlwind season with a consistent practice that includes nourishing and protective measures. Ayurveda promotes simple and regular routines as having a deeper effect on balancing vata than an ‘as needed’ approach.
It’s been rather a wash out so far with glimpses of the sun, punctuated with showers more worthy of April than July. Hopefully, we’ll all have our time in the sun, either at home for a ‘stay-cation’ or abroad.
Wherever you go, take yoga with you. With so many high quality teachers and classes now streamed online, technology can really come into its own. Download a few to your iPad and maintain your practice wherever you are.
If you’re braver, why not hunt out a class in your holiday location? One of my most amazing memories is when we spent Christmas in Istanbul. I remember doing a restorative yoga class on Christmas day, relaxing on my mat whilst the lights from the boats were reflected in the Bosphoros. Magical!
You’ll find yoga is a universal language and, whilst you may not be fluent in Turkish, French, Greek or Spanish, a down dog is a down dog across the globe!
I can’t wait to hearing about your travel tales when you come back to class, hopefully feeling refreshed and revived after your well earned breaks. Happy hols!
I’m so excited to be starting another new class at the lovely space, Romsey Studio Pilates, starting on Sunday 8th May, 10.45am – 11.45am. I’ll be running this in addition to the earlier 9.30am – 10.30am class so those of you who enjoy a lie in (and who doesn’t!) can still come to get your weekend yoga fix. Hope to see some familiar, as well as some new faces.
I am very excited to be launching a new yoga class on Monday 18th April. When and where I hear you all cry?? 7-8pm at Testlands Hub, Green Lane, Southampton. SO16 9FP. Cost? £3.00 pay as you go. What a great way to start the week.
I’m going to be working with the charity Catch 22, an organisation I am ashamed to say that I knew nothing about. Catch 22 is a national charity which has been up and running for 200 years. One of the aims of the Southampton branch is to bring a variety of sport options into the community, encouraging everyone to get involved and try new activities…..such as yoga! So, I’m hoping that local yogis, new or experienced, will come along to enjoy a LIM class with me. See you there next Monday.
With the Easter weekend approaching, usual class timetables have been thrown into disarray and I’ve had many questions regarding home practice. Whilst I’m sure we would all love to set aside time every day to hit the mat, life has a nasty habit of getting in the way. The myriad of demands we all have in our various roles as spouse, child, worker, chief kitten carer (that’s me!) invariably get in the way. But, the worst thing we can do is to beat ourselves up about this and brand ourselves ‘bad yogis’. Yoga teaches us to show loving kindness and this is not just towards others. It starts by extending it to ourselves. That being said, perhaps we also need to re-evaluate what constitutes a home practice. Who decreed it has to be an hour? Or that you need to roll out your mat in order to do 10 rounds of sun salutes? Yoga is a state of being; a way to consciously live your life, not just something we do on the mat. So, maybe it’s taking a moment away from your desk to breath mindfully for 5 minutes. Even better if you can get outside and walk, drawing the first sweet spring air deep into the belly. Or, sitting at the kitchen table and doing some simple stretches on the chair, easing out tight necks and shoulders, seated cat cow to mobilise the spine. If you have more time, there are some wonderful free online resources, offering short, safe routines you can follow. Enjoy the weekend, relish time away from work and routines, spend ing that time with those you love instead and relax! Normal service on the mat resumes next week!
As I to drove to teach this morning, I felt distinctly spring like. Maybe it was the sun shining just a little bit brighter, or the sight of bright daffodils and delicate snowdrops, braving the easterly wind to raise their heads. The days are lengthening with lighter mornings and evenings and we can begin to emerge, blinking and yawning from the winter gloom.
Spring is associated with joy, fresh energy and new beginnings. And, of course, spring cleaning! March is the perfect time to do some internal spring cleaning. A time to take an honest look at your life, and what you are creating each day. Similar to clearing our wardrobes of stuff which no longer fits or suits us, it’s a time to take an inventory of our lives, what needs to be tossed away, and what to hold on to. Through honest and intentional choices, we can see what’s missing, what’s been tossed to the side, and what is holding us back from creating something wonderful.
I use my yoga practice as a guide to bring myself back to centre and to reflect on what I am sending my energy to. Through my daily practice I choose one clear intention. The intention could be as simple as a word; “clarity”, “peace”, “compassion”, or it could be more detailed, like visualizing your dreams. But the important thing is to choose. Choose what we want to put into the world, what we want to get back, and use our yoga practice as a pathway to that end. Because once we choose to let go of what is not serving us, choose to move forward with clarity, kindness, faith and a little bit of attitude, well then, we have something to celebrate. Your yoga practice is a guide; a nudge toward our own true self.
So, as you practise yoga this week, on the mat and in your life, I encourage you to choose an intention. Through every breath, heart opener, hip opener, twist and hold, choose what you release and what you hold tight. Toss out the old stuff that is taking up useful space, open the windows of your view, clean out the foundation. Because then, all that’s left is the celebration of what is possible. And don’t forget to blast some music, laugh, dance and sing as loudly and joyously (and in my case, as tunelessly!) as you can.