yoga blog by yoga lover in Bicester

always learning

Just back from a great conference organised by the British Wheel of Yoga.  Took place at Warwick University – very central location and certainly easy for me to get to.

Started on Friday with lunch – a good chance to meet new yoga people and catch up with some familiar faces.  The afternoon was a session with a great teacher – Lesley Dike – also a physiotherapist, she led a fascinating session about the importance of the thoracic spine.  Learnt loads!!  Then time for supper followed by a session of laughter yoga … was great fun, though I’m not sure it’s really yoga …. certainly a good workout for the face muscles though!

I wimped out of the early morning session so started by Saturday with a leisurely breakfast followed by sessions on a more therapeutic style of yoga from Julie Friedeberger.  She described how yoga had helped her in her own experience of dealing with cancer and led some really worthwhile sessions on how to use yoga to help before, during and after treatment.  A truly inspirational tutor.

Then on Sunday did a session linking yoga to the five senses.

A great weekend that showed my how much there is still to learn!

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why I keep doing yoga

Have been thinking today about what keeps me coming back to yoga.  I’ve been a regular practitioner for many years and a teacher for six and I just never get bored.

Every movement, every breath can seem fresh and different when approached with an inquiring mind … being really in the moment (or to use the fashionable term ‘mindfully’).  Even the simplest of asanas can reveal something new whenever I practice them.  Meditation just takes me further and further yet brings me right back to me too.

I’m completely hooked!  Yoga is such an important part of my life that I  simply can’t imagine a life without yoga.  For me the slow, gentle style of traditional yoga rather than the often frenetic ‘posey’ gym style class is real yoga – yoga with heart and soul.

However busy I am, there’s always time for yoga – it may be just a few stretches and some breath work, or quiet contemplation, but it is an every day thing for me …and soemhow what makes life worth living.

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love your yoga mat

Totally daft but very watchable video from american hotel ….. go on watch  and enjoy!

love your yoga mat

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Lovely yoga

Just enjoyed a really lovely yoga practice.  Got home from work feeling tired and jaded so knew I needed to do something … and yoga always makes me feel good.

So, the mat came out and after a short period of relaxation to calm and focus I worked thru the Dru yoga activation series – a beautiful sequence of movements performed mindfully with conscious breathing and then some gentle asanas followed by Nadi Shodhanna … and now the world seems a much better place!  That feeling of being drained has gone and I’m ready to face the world again!

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new beginnings

The start of a new year and a time when lots of new students come to yoga.  It’s a time I really enjoy as a teacher as you really see the changes in people as they find their way with their yoga.

The first class is very much about letting students get to know me and my style of teaching.  I teach a gentle style of yoga, and give lots of attention to breath and alignment …. some people find the class to ‘slow’ for them … they want more of an exercise class …..others say wow …. I’ve found muscles I never knew I had and can feel my body working.

Some find the peace they crave, others find themselves able to switch off for the first time in months, others find being with themselves difficult ….  emotions they thought had been buried surface. But yoga can be such a tremendous healer.

I often talk about mindfulness … being in the moment …. practicing with full attention on the feel, the sensation, the very sense of being so alive, yet often so calm.  Some find it difficult to ‘give themselves permission’ to just enjoy their yoga …. rather than worrying about what might be or what needs to be done.  Others just ‘get it’ and really love the restoration that a class can give.

For me when I practice or teach yoga, that’s when I really feel I’ve found me … it’s like coming home … a profound sense of wellness.

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Finding your yoga style

Yoga seems to have become fashionable and there are loads of different ‘names’ for different styles of yoga …. which can be really confusing.  So to help you find the yoga class that’s right for you, I’m going to run thru some of them:

Hatha yoga : generally used to describe the classic yoga class – where you’ll relax and centre at the beginning, work thru some postures (asanas), do some breath work (pranayama) and generally finish with some relaxation and possibly meditation.  Do look out for teachers using the word Hatha and then adding something else though …. hatha + ashtanga probably just means ashtanga  (see below).

Ashtanga yoga : a strong powerful almost athletic style of yoga …. great if you are fit and healthy but less suited to those looking for a gentle relaxing class.  Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Power yoga are generally taught at gyms.  Vinyasa is the term for the sequence of asanas in Ashtanga yoga.  Sun power yoga is also a strong, athletic style.

Kundalini yoga : usually a more spiritual form of yoga class incorporating chanting – but the style may vary significantly from one teacher to another

Iyengar yoga : a style of yoga using precision of alignment with lots of blocks/belts etc to assist

Dru yoga : a gentle form of yoga with soft flowing movement – similar to a Hatha class, but often utilising music

Anusara yoga : a variation of hatha yoga – more or less vigorous according to the teacher

Laughter yoga : in my view a marketing ploy …. you’ll find joy in any yoga class!

Most teachers will allow you to come along and try their class before you enrol for block or term of classes.  Read their website, get a feel for the values of the teacher.  Find a teacher who teaches to share their love of yoga, and a class that enables you to take what you need today … acknowledging that your needs may change as you move through your yoga journey

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discovering yoga all over again

As well as being a lover of yoga I’m also a yoga teacher.  One of my current students is pregnant so I’ve been reminding myself of all the adaptations.

Today I practiced a pregnancy version of Sun Salutations and what a wonderful discovery it was …. whilst my usual style of practice and teaching is fairly gentle, this lovely flowing, soft sequence had a beautifully meditative sense to it and gave me a wholly different experience of sun salutation.  Refreshing, awakening yet also deeply calming.  It’s a sequence I can take and work with to extend my own practice and will enjoy sharing with my students.

Always something else to discover in yoga …. something special and meaningful.

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new yoga?

Just enjoyed a lovely yoga practice … chose an asana at random by opening a book and building my sequence around the asana  on that page ….happened to be  Utthita Parsvakonasana – extended side angle pose.

Started with quiet centering, then worked through a warm up phase based on Dru activation sequence … then a range of asanas to build up to my ‘chosen’ asana, and completed with a closing phase before a short meditation.

No matter I’ve done that asana many, many times before … there’s always something new to experience …. today I chose to focus on my breath and really feel the expansion through the extended side.  Felt really good.

Always my yoga practice shows me something new …. be mindful and always something new reveals itself.

Sometimes an asana seems more challenging, sometimes it becomes easier …. sometimes your focus is taken with something unexpected ….. which might form the platform for the meditation that time.

New yoga?  no, just yoga experienced from a different place …. always wonderful.

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yoga and meditation

As I’ve got older I’ve found my yoga practice has depended less on the  physical … I still very much enjoy asana … but also spend more time on pranayama and meditation.  I’m not at the point where I find it easy to find the silence …. stilling a chattering mind is always challenging!  But it is something I’m spending more time on.

Often I find focusing on the breath and then letting thoughts gradually fade away drops me into silence and stillness.  Sometimes starting with a mantra or thought or image works …… sometimes things just fall into place and as soon as I sit on my yoga mat I feel the stillness … but that’s still fairly rare for me.

But when you do find the silence, it is wonderful …  a real stillness, so alive yet so peaceful …. as soon as you become aware of course you’ve come back to conscious thought, but however short the ‘space away’ is it’s amazingly powerful.

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feel good yoga

Doesn’t the world feel a better place when you’ve enjoyed a yoga practice!!

Came home from work feeling washed out, tired and with achey shoulders from being at the computer for too much of the day.  Now after a lovely gentle, stretchy but balanced yoga practice I feel so much better … and ready to get on with things again.   Shoulders loosened, back and legs stretched, breathing smoothed etc.

A lovely sunny evening and weekend ahead …. looking forward to it already!

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