Each week in my yoga classes in Bristol, I see people come in to class feeling tired, perhaps agitated by their day, and usually more than a little lack lustre. When they leave, there is a noticeable difference in how they are. They are usually settled, calmer, and more comfortable in themselves. A better version of themselves. They have changed.
During the class we move the body, opening, expanding, stretching, challenging, engaging and working the entire body in some way. We breathe deeply for the full class, slowing and extending the breath where possible. And we try to focus on ourselves and our breath.
I came across a fascinating talk by Amy Cuddy recently called 'Your body language shapes who you are'.
Amy is a social psychologist. She researches body language at Harvard Business School and she was interested in researching how body language not only effects other people's perceptions of us, but how it actually effects our own body chemistry.
In her research she concluded that by standing up tall with the feet apart and with the arms raised and open for only 2 minutes daily, we can raise our testosterone levels (dominance hormone supporting a confident outlook), and reduce cortisol levels (stress hormones). Simply by changing our body position in this way, we are altering our hormones and brain chemistry. We are changing ourselves to not only feel but become more powerful, confident and laid back.
In yoga classes it is very likely that you'll do a lot of arm raising like she describes, standing with the feet apart, reaching up, opening up. Also combining this with bending forwards, twisting and so on. So her research suggests that we are actually changing ourselves and our hormones in a very real way by doing this.
I took two things from Amy Cuddy's inspiring talk
- firstly, that yoga postures seem very aligned to the body changes she talks about, and that by doing them you'll actually become more confident and laid back.
- and secondly, that only a little practice, taken regularly, can make a big difference!
Pass it on...
I love TED Talks
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I've recently been inspired by reading about minimalism
as an approach to living. I've been enjoying how it reflects many values that I hold close, and that I've been cultivating through my study and practice of yoga. It has also inspired me to have a really good clear out of my home!
The idea of living simply with less to enjoy life more is one that has taken more prominence for me since becoming a yoga teacher. I teach viniyoga - yoga that is applied carefully and adapted to suit those who are participating. Viniyoga embodies a minimalist approach to yoga practice. It doesn't require a super heated yoga studio, or any special kit (no blocks, belts, bolsters or even mats required). Nor does it require a certain level of fitness or skill to participate. All you need is you, your body, your breath, and your attention. In fact this is why it initially appealed to me. I wanted to start practicing yoga at home but found the foam blocks, folding chair, bolster, strap and bricks used in class rather unwieldy and off-putting to home practice, and questioned how essential they really were. Upon discovering the simplicity of viniyoga I was hooked, home practice became encouraged, and there has been no looking back.
I often do use a sticky yoga mat, but at home I'm equally happy practicing on a carpet (or even floorboards if necessary as I did last week when I was away but it's a little less comfortable). I use my body's own weight to create resistance to help strengthen and energise as I practice the various postures (asana) of yoga.
Viniyoga has a minimalist approach to the repertoire of asana usually practiced. At it's core there are a carefully selected set of primary asana, each serving an important purpose. These asana are gradually explored in further and further depth, with a deepening emphasis on breath and focus and techniques around these as the practice advances. This makes it a very accessible form of yoga practice as you can deepen your yoga practice and continue to develop without the need for a gymnast's or dancer's body. Let's face it, if you started practicing yoga as an adult, that isn't a realistic ambition for most people.
And beyond the daily bodywork and breathwork to maintain and develop our health, yoga cultivates mindful compassionate living, minimising the dependence on material attributes in our lives so that we have space to spend each day in an enjoyable, meaningful way. A wonderful way to live with amazing potential.
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If you head to London's Olympia on October 25th - 27th you'll no doubt be headed to the Om Yoga Show
. A space where the whole range of yoga approaches and yoga products can be found. From their hot yoga pod - a super heated bubble of 37 degrees to make you sweat, to the world record attempt for the most people in headstand at any one time (aiming for 300 yogis in headstand!).
With so much yoga teacher training being advertised, the target audience must be mostly serious students who enjoy yoga so much they want to go on to become a teacher. Something that can be a life changing experience.
There is of course the usual array of yoga clothing, to yoga oils, yoga crystals and all sorts of other yoga regalia to help you feel like your buying a little more yoga into your life. The Om Yoga Show will bring a little commercial mayhem, and perhaps a little inspiration into the lives of those who attend.
I have a couple of free tickets to give away if anyone can use them. Om Yoga Magazine
sent me a case of free magazines and a card signed by all the editorial staff congratulating me on being the Om Yoga Magazine
teacher of the month. Who knows how that happened but I don't even know if they've ever been to one of my classes. But my students enjoyed the free magazines so thank you for sending them!
Anyway, have fun if you go and if you do, leave a comment on what you discovered there. (Or get in touch
for the free tickets!)
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Bristol Yoga Trail on Saturday
Over 20 FREE yoga classes across 6 locations in Bristol! Saturday was a chance to explore the wonderful variety of yoga available in our city. We are lucky to have such a rich array of yoga teachers, yoga classes and yoga participants and there really is something for everyone, new and old. We were thrilled to welcome so many students to YogaSpace on Saturday who were keen to explore our classes. We are very sorry to those who couldn't fit in as a couple of the classes were completely packed and we just couldn't fit anymore in! We loved the range of students, from complete beginners to some who had been practicing for 25+ year. And we were inspired by the open questions and range of experiences that you all came with.
We would love to welcome back students new and old to yoga classes in the meantime, and we very much look forward to next years' Bristol Yoga Trail!Back to Bristol YogaSpace homepage.
Yoga practice isn't just confined to the mat. The ancient discipline suggests bringing intention to how you conduct yourself - including what you consume. So choosing to eat foods that benefit you both inside and out, are part of practicing yoga throughout your day. But how to do this and still enjoy what you eat?I love quinoa (pronounced 'kin wa') which is a grain originally from South America. My friends are bored of me saying how great it is and coming up with new and interesting ways of eating it, so I thought I'd share my favourite recipe with you in case you hadn't discovered it yet. It also happens to be the International Year of Quinoa as designated by the United Nations as it is so easy to grow and so nutritious. It isn't just a grain, it is a seed packed full of protein, calcium and all things good.
Its delicious (when spiced up a little), nutritious, good for you and our rather lovely planet. Anyway, jump on the band wagon and try it!
~~~Spicy Quinoa Salad1 cup of uncooked quinoa 2 cups of boiling water
2 cloves of garlic1 red pepper1 cup of cooked sweetcorn1 tin of black or adzuki (or any other) beans
drained1 tsp hot sauce or chopped chilli 1/2 tsp cumin powder2 tbsp lime juice2 tbsp olive oilsalt and pepper to tastehandful of fresh chopped corianderStep 1: Cook the quinoa. Add the quinoa and boiling water in a pan, put the lid on and simmer for 10 mins, then turn off the heat and leave for 10 more mins with the lid on. Then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.Step 2: While the quinoa is cooking, lightly saute the onion, garlic and red pepper, and cook the sweetcorn.Step 3:
Mix together the sweetcorn, beans, hot sauce, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and coriander.Step 4: Once the quinoa has cooled enough, mix all together in a big bowl and enjoy!
Check out this great quinoa recipe site www.LoveQuinoaRecipes.com
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The Bristol yoga community are joining together on September 14th 2013 for our first annual Bristol Yoga Trail! An open day of free yoga classes and events across 6 locations in Bristol. It's a wonderful chance to join in and explore the different yoga centres in Bristol, try different yoga styles and yoga classes. Or attend a talk or see a yoga film later at YogaWest in the evening. All are welcome and the classes will be free and open to all levels and abilities of fitness. No need to book, simply join in and enjoy!
There is Hot Yoga with Ed at YogaFurie, Iyengar Yoga with YogaWest, and a mix of different yoga styles at Bristol City Yoga, Wilder Studios and Yogasara. And we at Bristol YogaSpace are offering 3 viniyoga classes and a hatha yoga class for you to enjoy. Plus if you visit all 6 locations in the day, and get your leaflet stamped at each centre, you can get a free yoga class at the centre of your choice.
Save the date and tell your friends:
Bristol Yoga Trail, September 14th 2013For more info and the schedule of free yoga classes and events visit here:www.bristolyogatrail.wordpress.com#bristolyogatrailBack to the Bristol YogaSpace homepage
After being asked about it for ages by some of my male friends, we've finally decided to start up a men's yoga class at YogaSpace on Saturday mornings (9.30am, all levels of fitness and stiffness welcome!).
Fiona is a fab teacher who is both dynamic and knowledgable and will break down each of the poses to make them accessible and inspire you to challenge yourself. She is also great at anatomy and working with stiffness and injury so you'll be in safe hands. Men's yoga isn't different necessarily, but it is nice to be in a group where you feel comfortable and men tend to be stiffer in women, particularly in the legs and back, and in need of better core strength, so the classes will be taylored to focus on this. Traditionally yoga was only for men and it is only the last 50 years or so that it has been opened up to women by pioneers such as Krishnamacharya and Iyengar. So tell your friends and blokes who would benefit from a bit more strength, flexibility and de-stressing in their lives!Back to YogaSpace homepage
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington is fundraising for a new exhibition - Yoga: The art of transformation.
It is their first crowd funded exhibition, with the primary exhibition going ahead but crowd funding providing additional activities. It promises to provide an exhibition about the visual history of yoga with artefacts illustrating its different forms, some dating back to the 3rd century. Visit the Yoga: The art of transformation link here > Or read the news article about crowd funding by following the link here >
Yep, Halls menthol sweets are being marketed as a way to stay cool and calm all through the summer, not just when you have a cold.
Breathing deeply, especially exhaling deeply are great at settling and calming yourself (just take a deep breath and see) and integral to yoga practice. So interesting to see sweet manufacturers are catching on.Although not supporting taking sugar throughout the day to stay calm using breathing in this way is great!Back to Bristol YogaSpace homepage
Fascinating radio programme on Radio 4 where we explore findings that show we are made up of 10x more microbial cells than human cells. We are a community of billions of micro-orgamisms. In fact we are more a microbiome than human. The community is constantly exchanging between our environment and other people, in constant interchange. We're not as individual as we think we are, sharing much of our environment internally aswell. Which I find mind-boggling and food for thought. So who am 'I' again?Listen to it by following this link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rvpkbBack to Bristol YogaSpace homepage