Giving and Loving

When we find our dharma, life flows. It doesn’t always flow, so its nice when we fall into our dharma. Dharma in yoga means the path you are meant to walk, the one you find easy and fulfilling, the effortless path which gives so many people joy.

Recently, running the Universal Yoga Teacher Training Course and the TeenYoga course, it has occurred that the 16 years of yoga practise is ripe for giving… for sharing.. all the tormented questions, then resolved, now shared. The teachings pour through us and towards the students in a steady flow of gratitude to what has been, the pain, the teachings, the teachers. Coming away from the weekend, I feel full and empty and the same time. Full of Love, awe and gratitude for the students’ willingness to listen and learn and finally, for a moment, empty of any needs or desires.

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10 ways to help your teen relax

Expectation overload, online quantitative identity, our teens need to relax deeper and more than ever before. Some of them are constantly anxious or stressed and depending on the level of stress, you may need to start with some movement to release tension, before you can move into stillness effectively.

I believe, as the Dalai Lama says, we are all basically gentle by nature, and many times expectations and society push us into a brutalised form of ourselves. Yoga and related disciplines brings us back to the gentle, kind relationship with ourselves and each other, which is what makes it such a powerful practise.

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Coping with Exam stress

Here are five easy steps towards decreasing stress during exams:

1. Breathe! As you sti down to study, make sure you take 5 minutes to notice your breathing If you need stimulation, breathe deep and fast and if you ned calming down, make sure your outbreath is longer than your in breath.

2. Stretch!  Your shoulders and neck tend to get really stiff when you are studying, so simply, shrug your shoulders ten times and make sure they drop down really deep, then allow your neck to stretch to the right and to the left, count ten seconds on each side. Then use “eagle arms” to release shoulder blades.

3. Relax! Lie on your back on the floor (make sure its clean!), turn off your phone and tell everyone to lave you alone for ten minutes, put on some really soft, classical music and close your eyes, imagining relaxing each part of your body in turn. You can also check out yoga nidra programmes on this website: http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/downloads

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Do Boys do Yoga?

I asked my group of boys at the local Catholic 6th Form, why they come to yoga, week after week, why they encourage their mates to come along and these are their top five answers:

  1. Its like the gym, but more fun, building muscle and upper body strength
  2. Its really challenging, particularly the arm balances
  3. It has upped my (rugby) game, I am more flexible and quicker
  4. It has given me better self esteem
  5. It helps me deal with stress by teaching me how to relax fully

(secret no 6 was told to me in a whisper, was they came for the hot girls!)

 I have taught boys yoga now for 10 years and I am finding more and more of them are really getting into the essence of yoga, the relaxation, the breathing, the powerful asanas but also the gentle ones. The groups who have been with me for the longest (from7-14 years old) are big into Yoga Nidra and sharing emotional stuff from the week too. In those groups we also do self and group massage, which always goes down well. They are an emotionally intelligent group and I really enjoy being around them.

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Transparency and trust

I think there must be a lesson in this? How do I look at this well, to inform and help me to become a better yogi, a more engaged human being, in the service of others?

 Because, as yogis and yoga teacher trainers, it seems to me this is the goal, as Simon Haas so eloquently outlines in his book, “Dharma, Making Enlightened Choices”.

 So, the anger, where to go with that?  The betrayal, what is that?

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expanding into love

A deep yogi friend of mine recently decided to divorce her husband after years of affairs and betrayal. She had obliterated herself down the ahimsa path. Now I feel Kali in her, the suppressed rage of ages, percolate into action. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krisna (the god of love!!!) encourages Arjuna to do his duty on the battlefield, Arjuna wants peace, he doesn’t want to fight, Krishna encourages him to kill and do his duty.

 And this is where I am. Is the idea of ahimsa sometimes a tool to further suppress our anger, guilt, shame and actually bring us further from ourselves and therefore from others?

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AHIMSA- what does it mean in the real world?

əˈhɪmsɑː/

noun

  1. 1.

(in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain tradition) respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others. 

Ahimsa  – this beautiful word, at the back of our minds, as yogis, what does it mean, in practical terms? Doing, thinking no harm, love in action.

 Working with people is not always easy. Working in partnership can be tricky, so when I had built up trust and confidence in my assistant and colleague over a year, entrusting her to work with me on my unique training programme, it came as a shock when she told me that she was now going to run the programme of the same name at the same venue that we were running it together, but this time on her own.

I must admit to feeling betrayed, humiliated and angry.

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Adolescence-the essence of life, through yoga

Today, for the first time, three (of the 12) 14 year olds spontaneously and seriously burst into a unified Om, so loud and so surprising, I felt it in my whole body. I felt the stones and mortar of the venerable Catholic College tremor with surprise and judgment, but the kids were full of yoga and full of the joy of exploring the power of their bodies and minds, they had no idea of the revolution, they had taken part in. Afterwards, instead of the customary giggling and nervousness, followed a numinous silence. The stillness and profound acceptance landed softly on us all in the common room today.

The awe and respect I felt in that moment, is repeated every time they open their eyes after relaxation, savasana, pranayama or meditation, their open gaze falls on mine in compassion and wonder and reminds me why I am here.

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