I’m really excited to be teaching my Myth & Flow classes at the Wilderness Festival this summer (7-10 August) – check out their amazing programme of music, food, various workshops, and of course The Sanctuary where I will be , which hosts two yoga yurts and therapies.
For information and to book tickets for the festival click here
- and to book my Myth & Flow classes click here -
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU THERE!!
Click here for an interview with me on The Life Centre’s website about my yoga journey
What an amazing start to the year – raising this amount of money for Yoga Gives Back’s “Thank You Mother India” campaign! I am so grateful to all the lovely yoginis and yogis who turned up for this charity class at The Life Centre in Islington on the second Friday in January, which was a very dreary and wet one, so extra impressed with the great turn-out. We had a great time with a cleansing flow, then some much needed release in some restorative poses to let go of the week – and we ended the evening with tea, yummy brownies and enjoying great company!
I love these monthly Friday night events – this photo was taken as we were winding down our Hanuman practice during last Shakti Lounge – can’t wait for the next one – I hope you can make it! xx
So excited to be part of this community at this fantastic new space opening its doors in Haggerston this September – I will be teaching a Morning Flow on Tuesday mornings and two evening classes on Thursdays – look forward to seeing you there!!
In class over the past few weeks we have been exploring the first two limbs of yoga, these are the yamas and the niyamas. These are kind of codes of conduct which will help us find the state of yoga, or union. Not to be mistaken for rules but rather guidelines to find peace more easily, the yamas and niyamas are relevant in bridging our yoga off the mat into our daily lives. My teacher says that we need to measure our practice by our whole lives – does our practice support us in a way that we find greater contentment and harmony? Does it help us live more in accordance with our values? Are we living purposefully and dharmically? This is how we should measure the effectiveness of our practice, not by whether we can get our legs behind our heads or manage a 5 minute headstand. For me this is indeed the interesting and juicy part of the practice – how does it translate into all the hours of the day that we spend OFF the mat?
In this context the yamas and niyamas serve as a very useful lens through which to view our lives. We can become more aware of the choices we make and live more consciously. A nice practice to do is to work with one yama/niyama each week (kind of what we have been doing in class) and just starting to notice how that might impact our lives. Keep in mind that the purpose isn’t to find a fixed way of being “right” – as this generally implies someone else being “wrong” and only leads to a greater sense of separation (as opposed to union) – but rather the idea is to inquire, to stay curious and to listen deeper to the effects of our actions in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
This is a valid and interesting question that came up in a conversation I had with a fellow yoga teacher recently. If you look at the schedule in any of the big yoga studios these days you will find a myriad of names, styles, descriptions of classes. Anything from Hot Power Yoga to Restorative Yin, Kundalini to Jivamukti, there is Acroyoga, there is Yogilates – the list is endless.
So what is yoga? Well, one way of finding the answer is of course to return to the ancient texts such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Ghita and there we would find very little evidence to support the idea that any of these physical practices are much to do with yoga. In fact, much of the asana practice as we know it today is most probably only about 100 years old. But it isn’t my intention to delve into an academic or philosophical discussion on what constitutes yoga, what is “real”yoga etc.. And I want to keep myself from falling into the trap of becoming a yoga snob or traditionalist – I find it exciting that what we do is part of a living tradition, which means we must also allow for it to evolve. The inquiry which interests me is what does yoga mean to me? What is it I expect from a yoga class or practice? What is it that the teachers I have resonated with have given in their teaching which has been so transformative?
I have recently managed to carve out some time to go to a few classes which I wouldn’t normally go to, just to see what’s out there, how other teachers and styles work – and just to bring a bit of a fresh perspective on my own practice, and it has given me a lot of food for thought. As I have been mulling over what I enjoy and what I like less, what I agree with and what I question when it comes to sequencing, asana alignment and so forth, it strikes me that really these things are on some level fairly trivial (well, as long as we keep our bodies safe, of course). I personally enjoy the variety there is out there of practices, and I think it is really fantastic that there are so many different ways to practice because it means that anybody can find some form of yoga that appeals to them and that they enjoy. So I am open to practicing in different ways, I am not a purist – but there is something which I realise I do expect regardless of what the external practice looks like. And it is what my teacher Rod Stryker refers to as “remembrance” (smarana in Sanskrit). This is the remembrance of our true nature, our eternal selves, that which connects us to the universal consciousness.
Yoga means union, so when I practice I strive to find a closer union between all parts of my being, a greater understanding of myself ; the “small” self as in my body and my mind, as well as my Self, the part of me which is spirit, boundless and infinite, beyond body and ego. To me this is one of the fundamental differences which contrasts yoga completely from any other physical exercise, and if this kind of experience isn’t invoked or encouraged within a class then I would perhaps question whether it is indeed yoga… but feel free to challenge me on that I am more interested in a dialogue than in absolute answers or “truth”!
There has been a wonderful idea circulating on the web recently which is to collect all your happy moments throughout the year into a jar by recording them on small pieces of paper. Then on New Year’s Eve you open the jar and read through all the lovely experiences you have had through the year. So today I went jar-shopping to start collecting my moments for 2013.
I was faced with the fragility of life fairly early on when I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my mum in my mid-teens. The profound realisation this gave me was that happiness lives in the small moments in life, so the idea of being more vigilant of these moments really speaks to me. Happiness in itself is not a continuous, sustained feeling – contentment can be – but actual happiness lies in momentary glimpses and often unexpected turns. Perhaps these are the moments when we are truly in the flow of life, when we feel fully connected to our source – something yoga and meditation practice certainly helps us find. These moments can happen irrespective of outer success, achievement, luck – as long as we remain open. Having a jar where we collect happiness might actually work as a reminder to stay awake, to stay receptive. At the end of the year when we sit and read through our memories we will be reminded that whatever losses or setbacks we might have suffered throughout the year, living is indeed made up of lots of moments, many of them joyous. Learning to appreciate these is what will lead us to greater contentment.
Having this jar is like writing your own personal Happiness Sutras. Many of the ancient sacred texts are called Sutras because they are in the form of a collection of aphorisms or short verses which are called sutras. The word sutra actually means thread. My moments in a jar are of course no sacred text with profound spiritual meaning (if only!), but I like this idea of my recorded moments being like beads on a thread – the thread of happiness running through my life.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2013 – may this New Year be filled with love, peace and joy!!
I look forward to continuing my work, connecting with you through classes, workshops and retreats,
Love & Light
I am so excited about this week-long retreat at Grenadine Lodge in Dalyan 20-27 May 2013. Bookings taken before the New Year will get a better rate and you also get a discount if you come to my classes or have been on retreat with me before – so get booking
For more information please click here!