Kerrie is proudly displaying her “Peninsula Yoga” T shirt on the snow fields, she’s previously promoted our logo in Europe. Dedication like this deserves recognition so 1 week will be added to her membership absolutely free!!!
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.
Hey Peninsula Yogis, looks like we missed out on being rated as one of the Central Coasts “chic” yoga studios. Upon hearing this news I thought I’d better find out exactly what “chic” means, some of the descriptions are,- “stylish, elegant, sophisticated, dapper, debonair, attractive, stylish, fashionable, ultra-modern, trendy, snappy”.
All things that we definitely are NOT.
Our studio sits in a pot holed back lane, with garbage dumpsters and possibly the Central Coasts ugliest building for a view. We have a resident homeless man camped across the road. We hear all the rantings of a rather cranky local business man and a lot our classes are accompanied by the vibrations and hum of industrial washing machines. We encourage GREAT jokes, conversation and interaction.
Where definitely not “Chic”. We must be doing something right though! ! Most of our classes are full, we’ve been established for over 12 years, the studio goes from strength to strength.
The success of our studio is an endorsement for traditional yoga without gimmick, yoga designed for real people offering functional, practicable and structured movement which considers the strengths and restrictions of each individual.
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.
Yoga asana (movement) is much more than exercise. If practiced correctly it’s a moving meditation or a relaxation in action. Mindful, intelligent and structured movement is what separates asana from an exercise routine.
An understanding of the 5th limb of yoga “pratyahara” meaning ‘withdrawal of the senses’ is crucial in developing a yoga practice. Pratyahara forms a link between external and internal focus which moves the practitioner to higher states of concentration and meditation.
A technique used to develop focus and concentration is drishti or gaze point (conscious seeing), the drishti established reflects the alignment of the pose, there’s 9 drishti’s relating to various parts of the body, candles and mandala’s can also be used. If your eyes are darting around the room while your practicing your scattering your energy. Establishing drishti allows your mind to focus on a single point without distraction from other external stimulus. Where ever you focus your gaze (drishti) your energy (concentration) will naturally be directed to that place.
I’ve had a few interesting drishti fails in my classes. One person established a drishti on a billboard advertising pizza outside the studio, I realized her mind had definitely drifted from practice when she sat on her mat and ordered a pizza mid class. Another person thought that I was jealous of her because she felt her asana practice was superior to mine. It may well have been true but making that comment is ego driven and indicates a lack of understanding of the body-mind connection.
As you move through the various poses the bio-feedback from your body allows you to discover your inner world. Your trying to make your body comfortable in what you might be finding to be an uncomfortable position. Your assessing whether you can take yourself deeper or do you need to practice a modified version of the pose, do you need to come out of the pose completely, what sensations are you experiencing, where can you strengthen or relax your body, where can you direct your breath, have you established a gaze point.
The aim of asana practice is the body-mind connection, being present, being now! You can’t change the past it’s happened, you can’t live in the future, it hasn’t happened. What you have is the present moment. Yoga offers all the tools to live in the “now” particularly if you take your moving practices beyond the physical
The philosophy of yoga states quite clearly that the body and mind are not separate. Whatever happens in the body will be reflected in the mind, whatever happens in the mind will be reflected in the body.
A person who is suffering from an emotionally traumatic experience will quite noticeably and unintentionally alter their physical posture in response to the mental trauma, the upper back will round, the shoulders rotate internally, they become stooped and very protective of the heart area. The physical reaction to emotional trauma blocks the flow of energy around the body, the blockage causes a stagnation in the body and further disease will follow or intensify.
The body and mind permeate with energy which in yogic terms is referred to as prana which translates as life force or life energy. The concept of prana appears in all the body-mind modalities, “ki” as in Reiki and “chi” as in Tai Chi.
Chakras (spinning wheels of energy) or energy centres comprise the model of the energetic and subtle body, this is where the vital life force (prana) gathers. They’re located along the spine from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head, each has a specific colour and spiritual quality and are associated with a corresponding psychological, physical and emotional states necessary for the development of the “whole” person.
The subtle energies of the body flow through the body via channels referred to as nadi’s which connect the chakras and move the energy.
It’s very important to note that the concept of prana, chakras and nadis is subtle, you can’t go to the Doctor and ask to have your chakras X-rayed or scanned, they don’t exist in a physical realm.
Hatha Yoga was developed to circulate, cultivate, control prana and channel energy around the body. It’s much more than a form of exercise, much more than being physically strong or flexible. In the western world the ideals of yoga have been distorted and focus on contortions of very flexible bodies. Asana or yogic movement aims at creating, developing and distributing subtle energy around the body. The physical attributes are a very beneficial adjunct.
The reason a yoga class is sequenced in a particular way, the time a pose is held and counter poses practised is about energy control and movement, there’s a lot more happening rather than stretching muscles, think about the subtle effects – the inner-cise. Challenge your teachers and ask questions about the class structure and how it relates to prana.
Hatha Yoga is a very complex science that draws on thousands of years of practice and philosophy which has enormous health benefits both physically and mentally.