This lady is the very inspirational Lesley Ewington. Lesley has been practicing wth me for over 5 years, she’s 70 years plus young and keeps herself fit and active by playing tennis, she swims regularly and of course yoga. Lesley has recently had a shoulder reconstruction and the focus and determination she’s dedicated to her rehabilitation is awe inspiring. Her Doctor can’t believe the range of movement she’s achieved in such a short time after surgery, Lesley attributes her remarkable recovery to her yoga practices
Introducing Bev McPherson who is a highly regarded and foundation member of our “Sit your way to Health” chair yoga class.
Bev contracted an illness which resulted in the amputation of a lower leg and fingers. She hasn’t let that major set back interfere with her yoga practices, achieving incredible results in mobility and pain relief.
Bev is an absolute inspiration with her commitment to movement, focus and determination.
There seems to be an epidemic of poor body awareness, rounded shoulders and spinal slumping taking place. A de-evolution in posture which is not only aesthetically unpleasing but can create serious imbalances in the structures of the body, leading to a loss of mobility and function and ultimately creating pain. Hyper-kyphosis of the thoracic spine seems to be an adjunct of modern sedentary living, put simply the body is designed to move.
Is the kyphosis being caused by genetic, physical or emotional factors? The yogic philosophers and sages tell us that the body and mind are inseparable, what happens in the mind will be reflected in the body and what happens in the body will be reflected in the mind. Just observe a person who is upset, they breath shallowly, become very closed in posture by rounding their shoulders and upper back. They become very protective of the heart and the corresponding ‘anahata’ chakra.
The anahata chakra which is part of the subtle body and is associated with unconditional love, compassion, warmth and joy, it’s literally the energy centre of emotions and reflects how you relate to yourself and others. In Sanskrit ‘anahata’ translates as “unhurt, unstuck and unbeaten”.
A temporary emotional upset isn’t going to close you physically or emotionally but consecutive and prolonged “hurts” will. Conditions such as depression and anxiety will cause both physical and emotional blockages which can manifest physically as closed posture (slumped upper back, forward head position and rounded upper back) as the person attempts to protect their heart. Emotional feelings such as fear of rejection, feeling unworthy of love, paranoia, loving indiscriminately and an inability to support anyone else at an emotional or deep level, basically they become emotionally dysfunctional.
Yoga can help. A properly structured asana practice which emphasises back bending, chest broadening and heart chakra opening poses can help realign posture by addressing the short tight and subsequent long week muscles associated with kyphosis. Certain breathing techniques (pranayama) will help with lung and heart function, developing both physical and subtle energy. Meditation techniques, chanting and relaxation practices combined with visualisation can help open the heart chakra and relax the mind.
If you have a restriction in your physical body, you’ve been practising a certain pose for a long time and it’s just not working, you don’t seem to be improving or you’re not feeling any benefit. It may not necessarily be a physical restriction that you have, it may be an emotional or subtle energy blockage that you’re experiencing.
Remember the body and mind are one.
“I’ve got a better body than her”
This totally misinformed and inappropriate comment was made by a former student of my studio, a fairly long-term practitioner. As indicated by these words this person actually has no idea of what yoga is or the principles of inclusion that I promote in my classes.
The mind-set of this person is beyond my comprehension, let’s face it only a rather fragile ego would compare their physical shape as a trophy of superiority to another person.
The most frustrating part of this narcissistic comment is that the message I push constantly in my classes, “Everybody is different and regardless of your body type or shape there is an appropriate practice for you” isn’t being heard.
I remove all sense of competition in my classes, no one passes, no one fails” I constantly promote that there is no prototype body for yoga movement. Everyone benefits regardless of how you look, what you wear or how advanced your practice may be.
I’ll continue to offer real yoga for real people.
Kundalini yoga involves movement, breath work, relaxation, chanting and meditation. It is a healing practice and it creates a shift in your energy, you definitely feel different after practicing. Kundalini yoga is for everyone, it can be a very strong or a gentle practice, and everything in between- depending on what you need and enjoy. Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice that comes from India and was brought to the west in the 1960s by the master of kundalini yoga “Yogi Bhajan”. I pray to Yogi Bhajan and his presence guides me through the class.
In kundalini yoga we do “kriyas”. A kriya is a set of exercises done for a specific purpose, and there are thousands of kriyas. So there are kriyas for each chakra, there are kriyas for the immune system, for mental health, for digestion, for releasing addictions, and for general health and balance and there are kriyas for many other areas. The classes I teach are suitable for beginners through to advanced, I guide you to work at your level. I love kundalini yoga and I have been practicing it most days for the last 14 years. This has been a very healing and empowering experience for me and it brings me joy to share this beautiful yoga with others.
Kundalini classes are offered on Mondays between 3.30pm to 5pm – Wednesdays from 7am to 8.30am and 3.30pm to 5pm.
The seasons are changing – Winter is about to arrive!!!
The Kapha dosha (energy that defines a persons makeup) dominates and with its characteristics of coolness, dampness, heaviness and sluggishness it’s no wonder you want lock yourself away. In the colder months the natural instinct is to rug up in front of a fire-place with a warm cup of tea and hide away from the winter weather, the desire to hibernate has arrived! A nice but unrealistic notion! It’s very important to remember that winter is not a time to stop your Yoga practise, it’s time to change your practise in accordance with the season.
You can’t escape what the universe is offering, your part of it, you still have to function and go about your daily life regardless of the weather. You can partially withdraw from life over winter but to do so you have to live an artificial life, fake heating, fake lighting, eating unseasonal foods, the list goes on. You may be able to exist like this but its false, this is not living, it’s out of step with the universe and it will have diminishing effects on your wellness.
A winter practise helps you keep warm. Muscles produce heat in the body when they contract, the process of converting chemical energy to mechanical energy produces heat, this increases the flow of blood through your body, which keeps you warm. Intelligent movement will help prevent muscular-joint pain and stiffness, your immune system remains strong and in conjunction with a healthy diet will help prevent the usual winter illnesses.
The human body is meant to move, its that simple. As soon as mobility is lost, wellness declines.
Have you noticed how people walk around in contracted bodies during winter, shoulders hunched, upper backs rounded and arms wrapped across the their chests all in an effort to maintain body heat. This “closed” gesture in movement will biomechanically destroy posture and at a deeper level prevent the flow of subtle energy throughout the body causing a decline in function and wellness.
Dull, gloomy and cold weather may make you feel low and lethargic but there’s nothing more uplifting and mood changing than your regular Yoga practise.
There is a science behind the sequencing of your Yoga class, hopefully your noticing that your practise has been altered to cater for the change in season. An intelligent and well structured Yoga sequence is easy to maintain in winter or any other time of the year if you maintain your motivation. You can stay strong and healthy if you keep moving and dont allow the cold weather to hinder your practise.
Stay warm, keep moving and be gentle with yourselves.
Kundalini Yoga is now being offered at Peninsula Yoga
Kundalini classes offer an uplifting blend of spiritual and physical practices, Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning “truth is my identity.” The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
Monday and Wednesday at 3.30pm.
SATYA – (Truthfulness) is the second of “yamas” (restraints) documented by Patanjali in his classic treatise the Yoga Sutra. The yamas are things that you shouldn’t do and along with the Niyamas constitute yoga’s ethical guidelines for living.
The concept of Satya or truth is wide-reaching and very detailed, being truthful to yourself, to others in both actions and words. Apparently we start to understand the concept of untruthfulness around the age of 3, like any behaviour if its practiced enough, the better you develop your lying skills and the more deceitful you become.
Certain personality types will feel their superior to others and their particular style of untruthfulness is somehow a noble course and justified through their deflective and hypocritical behaviours.
Remember the person who berates and accuses the most often and the loudest is usually doing the exact thing there accusing someone else of doing.
Be truthful to yourself, believe in yourself, be gentle with yourself.
Do you notice when you walk into your yoga space to practice that not every person looks exactly the same as you? Some people may be taller, shorter, thinner, heavier, younger, older!! Some physical attributes may be an advantage in some poses and a detriment in others. It’s quite reasonable to conclude that if you look different physically that you’re not going to look exactly the same in asana. Don’t try to emulate anyone else in the class, be content and celebrate your own uniqueness. Remember the famous line from The Life of Brian “Your all individuals”. Even if you can mirror someone else in class I can guarantee you will be having a completely different experience.
Santosa (contentment) defined in the 8 limbs of yoga of Patanjali. This niyama seems to have a great deal of significance of late. Let’s face it yoga is all about getting over yourself. Be realistic there are certain poses you may never master, there are certain higher states of mind you will never achieve. Physical, mental and emotional restraints can and will hold you back. Don’t give up but be realistic, remember it’s about the journey not the destination. The selfie era has placed a hole lot of pressure on yogis to “perform” don’t get caught up the “kardashianisation” of yoga. It’s a philosophy of non ego and non competition. I teach yoga to people who can perform asana to perfection but they tell me they would do anything to have quiet mind. I teach classes to people with limited mobility but have great focus, all they want to do is to move with freedom. Please challenge yourself, strive to improve but be content.