Sunday is World Yoga Day as designated by the United Nations. The UN "recognises the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations."
The system of yoga was developed thousands of years ago and has been one of India's greatest gifts to the world.
The human body and mind work far better with with regular use, and yoga offers a system of exercises, practices and teachings to enable the body and mind to achieve the greatest health possible.
Some of the practices are rather esoteric and may not suit our western culture as well, but many of the teachings and practices are applicable to everyone and a great way of improving our health, strength, energy, awareness and becoming able to live a full life. Tune the instrument of your body and mind and see what becomes possible.
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We are delighted to open our doors on Sat 13th September and invite everyone to join in our free yoga classes, meet the teachers and enjoy refreshments.
We are inviting you and your friends to join us, whether you are a beginner or just want to try another style of yoga or a new teacher. Everyone is welcome!
Free class schedule
11:45 - 12:45 Flow yoga with Virginie and Sheila
13:00 - 14:00 Beginners yoga with John
14:25 - 15:15 Viniyoga with Clara
15:30 - 16:30 Beginners yoga with Clara
All levels of fitness and experience are welcome to all the classes.
YogaSpace along with most of the other yoga studios across Bristol are all opening our doors for the 2nd Bristol Yoga Trail. Last year's was great fun so hoping to make this year's even better. Hope to see you there!
See the Bristol Yoga Trail website here >
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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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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!
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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 2013
For more info and the schedule of free yoga classes and events visit here:
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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 >
Our lives are generally noisy and busy, with constant distractions coming from all directions. At work people are often chatting and on the phone, the tapping of keyboard keys, radios and TVs, traffic and so on. Silence is hard to come by except perhaps at night once we go to bed (if we are lucky enough to live somewhere quiet!). People often say they can't hear themselves think. Many people are so un-used to silence that they find it awkward, perhaps even uncomfortable and put background noise on to keep it at bay.
This Wednesday is an international day to celebrate silence. Just this day is trying to remind us that silence is something to be valued and to bring in to our lives more often. The Big Shhhh aims to spread stillness and to unite us.
Why? you may ask, in this age of achievement, what will it get me?
Silence can be a chance to get to know yourself, to listen to yourself, and to allow the mind to reflect without the distraction of noise and without these distractions sapping our energy. It can be a chance to let go of negative distractions and allow happiness to emerge, and to refocus and remain grounded.
But of course, silence isn't necessarily easy, and when starting out, is impossible for some people. Once you stop physically, and listen to yourself, you realise there is a lot going on that you may have either missed before, or even actively avoided if what you find isn't comfortable to you. What might remain if you stop the noise around you? Spending time in silence, once you find yourself able to physically stop, can be a revelation.
Meditation is usually taken in silence, and yoga is usually taken with only the sound of your breathing, movements if practicing asana (postures), and perhaps the sound of the teachers voice if in a group yoga class.
These days some yoga classes even include background music, or uplifting music, to keep the body moving and the mind focused on the practice.
It takes discipline and effort to remain silent, and to remain still. Very difficult for some and something that only regular practice and supportive guidance will help. Silence crosses disciplines and is found at the core of yoga and meditation and also in church and prayer.
Once you are able to find silence, what will you find there? An open question, and only one way to find out...
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The Association for Yoga Studies (AYS) had their annual conference this weekend which was brilliantly inspirational. About 100 yoga teachers got together to share ideas, take workshops on everything from 'yoga breathing for pain relief during labour' to exploring faith or confidence through yoga. It was a great chance to discuss ways of teaching some of yoga's timeless principles. Ranju Roy and Dave Charlton were the plenary speakers focusing on Pajanjali's teachings in the Yoga Sutras about awareness, how yoga practice can effect our very being, effecting us potentially in quite profound ways, and also exploring how we see the world once we allow our yoga practice to deepen. Inspiring stuff.
Beyond the brilliant sessions from the weekend, a lasting memory is the Saturday night entertainment where we were led in a rendition of a funny song where we all joined in the chorus 'oh it all makes sense when your lying on the mat'. Funny but true... yoga helps us feel good on the mat, but the effects of yoga practice can be much longer lasting and helpful day to day - sometimes!
Friday evening and YogaSpace is full with almost 30 people celebrating the new yoga centre in Bristol. Paul Harvey, a deeply knowledgeable yoga teacher and my teacher for almost 5 years led the evening which included a wide range of students from experienced yoga teachers to interested beginners.
Paul led us through discussions about yoga, some yoga practices, chanting and amusing anecdotes about his time in India with some of the great teachers over the past 30 years or so. The discussions were focused around body, breath, mind and beyond, leading us into the more mystical aspects of yoga.
He started with discussions about Hatha yoga as body and energy work, using yoga as a starting point for physical health. Then leading in to ideas about breathing (pranayama) with specific techniques to aid our mental clarity and concentration. We discussed the concept of 'prana' or energy, the 'glue' that gives us life. Who knows what prana actually is, science doesn't quite define yet or describe it yet either, but something in us is our undefinable life force, stronger and more vital in some than in others, energy that is variable from day to day that can't be described in chemical or scientific terms. (An interesting illustration of the elusive concept of prana is 'chronic fatigue syndrome', very real for many people, no currently understood medical cause or treatment, and the yoga model considers this to be an issue with prana or our life force.). In yoga the breath is used to influence prana so a great deal of emphasis is put on the breathing as we take postures (asana) and then as we learn to sit and just 'breathe' as we refine and deepen our yoga practice.
Asana are often used for fitness and flexibility but were traditionally intended to help us strengthen the body and give support and length to the spine, the central channel in the body which provides us with the ability to sit, breathe well, and ultimately to meditate well without the body causing a distraction by aching after 5 minutes! Good asana practice leads to good energy, prana/apana and chakra health. The secondary purpose of good asana practice is to refine the rest of the body, for good structural and systemic health.
We took a crash course in chanting some sanskit chants. 'Yogena yogo' helped to take us out of our normal frame of mind, perhaps we found it uncomfortable or odd, perhaps we enjoyed the sounds and the group integration into one voice and the focus needed to listen and then repeat the different sanskit sounds. Either way, we felt different when the chanting was finished, and isn't that part of the point of yoga, to help us see things slightly differently and explore our reaction to resistances in our body and mind.
We talked about pranayama, the practice of controlling the breathing in different ways, a discipline often not taught in a group yoga class. We discussed the use of breath in asana to help develop a long, sustained, smooth breath so that when we practice pranayama, we have a trained breath with stamina that we can then work with. A Sivananda teacher raised an interesting point that in the Sivananda yoga tradition she was studying, they are advised not to teach pranayama unless the student has a pure body free from meat and alcohol, otherwise pranayama would be worse for you than not doing it at all. As Paul discussed this with her, he referred to the origin of the teaching which has Hindu principal's at it's heart. Sivananda brings a Hindu interpretation to yoga, coming from a Vedanta tradition, and blends yoga and Hindu teachings. The 'Yoga Sutras', a seminal and ancient yoga text by Patanjali which is studied and respected by most who teach yoga, don't mention being vegetarian or the requirement of purity before learning pranayama. There wasn't disagreement that this was a good thing, just a clarification of where the teaching was coming from and understanding of what Yoga teaches us and what religion teaches us. Yoga can be interpretted without any religious influence as a set of practices for health and transformation and Patanjali is careful not to include religion in his teachings, even though it was written over 2,000 years ago.
We took some group asana practice before having a break and coming back to a discussion about Raja yoga. The focus now moved on the the mind and beyond. Yoga classes that teach asana are often for its own fitness purposes, but it was traditionally taught to ultimately train the mind. Asana and pranayama are used to provide us with a stable mind and body with the intention to prepare us for meditation and ultimately a connection with something beyond ourselves. Reflection and meditation require discipline, which requires training and preparation to be able to effectively practice these. As death looms closer for us in our later years, an enquiry into what might lie beyond death drives many to religion, or it can lead to reflective meditation and an enquiry into what life is all about and perhaps exploring something in us that might be permenant and beyond death. Or it might lead to busy, full lives full of activities and friendships that help us avoid thinking about death at all! Meditation allows space to explore or to just 'be' and ultimately not worry about it...
I left the evening feeling that YogaSpace had been filled with teachings that got right to the heart of yoga. The warmth of the group and the good wishes from Paul for the new yoga centre were an inspiration to me and to YogaSpace. And we raised £235 for the Julian Trust Night Shelter! Thanks to everyone who came, to Paul for being so generous with his time and his teachings, and for making the evening such a special and memorable event.