Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Is it possible to 'find' yourself?

Two thousand years ago, a succession of Chinese scholars did rather a lot of deep thinking. They posed questions and made statements that are eternally relevant. Their teachings challenge us to open ourselves up to possibilities we may never have even considered.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to a fascinating interview with the Harvard Professor of Chinese History, Michael Puett. He calls upon these ancient ideas and illustrates how they can guide us on to the path of a 'good life'.

"I'm trying to find myself", is a commonly used phrase and - for many - an attractive notion. Michael suggests that there is no core self to find. He goes on to explain that we are all a messy bunch of stuff. That we are fluid; ever evolving. As such, we cannot find ourselves. But we can be more mindful of how we respond to things.

He gave the example of someone who would label themselves as 'angry'. That they might explain this is as a result of a failed relationship. In labelling oneself we are saying, "This is what I am and will continue to be". 

He suggests that we make efforts to respond more positively to everyday occurrences. To think of life as training...something we can get better at - and by this he meant be happier.

By responding more positively to things life throws at us, we can make our lives, and those of the people around us, better.

He went on to explain that he is not suggesting we all pretend we are fabulous. That it is reasonable (and helpful) to realise that we are not extremely good at ________, but that we can improve. That we are fluid, evolving, improving ourselves.

This way of thinking and his clarity really struck a chord with me, which I thought I'd share. 

 "When you see a good person, think of becoming like him/her. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points."  -  Confucius

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."  -  Confucius

Monday, 25 April 2016

Real people doing real yoga

Not a fake tan, tiny bikini or unachievable yoga pose in sight!


Yoga is for everyone.

1st class free...no obligation to join. Simply come along & try it out.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The false image of yoga

I am so fed up with the imagery that has flooded the internet. Pages and pages of  tanned, tiny, young women in skimpy outfits performing extremely challenging yoga poses, with perhaps the odd photo of a muscle-man demonstrating his strength. Puuuurlease!

I understand that when you are promoting your yoga school/class you need to select images that are inspiring and eye-catching, but I believe that we need to be responsible in our choices.

To project an elitest image...a 'club' that only the thin, beautiful and flexible can belong to is utterly irresponsible.

Yoga teachers the world over recite, "Yoga is for everyone"...so let's show that!

Until now, I have only had photo's of myself on my website...not for my vanity, but to preserve the privacy of my students.

But I really have had enough of the damaging torrent of unbalanced imagery relating to yoga.

So, I will be asking my students permission to photograph them - real people - doing real yoga, and I will post these pictures. I encourage you to do the same. Let's balance out this imagery and allow people to consider the possibility of them doing yoga, rather than writing themselves off before they have even stepped onto a mat.

Yoga is not the final pose. Yoga is the doing, the trying, the sweat, wobbles, concentration, breath. Whether or not you can touch your toes is unimportant - as is your weight, gender, race, religion, age.

Yoga is for everyone. It really is.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Tech Neck...and how yoga can help

'Tech Neck' was in the press this time last year, but it is only now that I am really seeing the negative effects on people's bodies when they come to class.

The symptoms may seem minor at first: headaches, pain in the neck, stiffness in the shoulders, a general ache in the upper body. Many people simply ignore the issue, putting it down to stress/tension, but if these symptoms are occuring with regularity you need to do something about it now.

If left, these problems can worsen, resulting in reduced strength and sensation in the fingers and hands plus backache that worsens with each passing year. If you are experiencing numbness and tension in your fingers you should see your GP, as it could be as a result of compressed nerves in your neck.

Our body is designed to support the (significant) weight of the head in an upright position. When the head is positioned forwards of the shoulders, even by a few degrees it increases the strain on the neck tenfold. The result is muscle contraction in the neck, reducing blood flow and decreased oxygen.

There are some simple things you can do to steer clear of 'Tech Neck'.

* Keep gadgets at eye level. Holding your phone, tablet, E-Reader at chest or waist level, causes you to look down at the device, bending the neck, rounding the shoulders and straining the spine. Move your eyes to the screen, not your whole head

* Practise yoga regularly to improve your posture. Through regular practise, you are imprinting correct alignment and good posture on your body, which results in good posture on and off the mat

* When working on a laptop or computer, make sure your back is straight and that your legs are at right angles and your arms too. Open your chest, soften your shoulders down away from your ears, lengthen your spine. Your computer screen should be high enough so you are not looking down. If your core and back muscles are weak, chances are you will end up slumping, rounding your back, head jutting forward...do something about it now before it becomes a serious problem

* Take little breaks from the screen. To remind you, set your phone to vibrate once every 20 minutes; look into the distance, roll your shoulders, extend, flex and rotate the neck. It's good for your eyes to have a break too! Also, use these breaks to check your posture

If you are unsure how to sit/stand with good posture then you need to get yourself along to an Iyengar Yoga class. Once the body is repeatedly moved into correct alignment, it will become second nature to you.

Yoga classes back to normal now

All yoga classes resume this week (except for the Wednesday Manuden class which restarts on the 20th)

Click here for up-to-date classes, timetable, venues and more.