Many people get frustrated with meditation or simply have no idea where to start. Meditation is meant to be enjoyable, relaxing and a powerful tool for our health. I have put together a morning of movement and stillness, noise and silence, laughter and peace so that I can pass on this hugely rewarding practice. No previous experience of yoga is necessary – just a mat and blanket.
So what exactly is meditation? Emptying your mind like emptying your kitchen bin??? Well it can have that effect – but in a more gentle manner – we are trying to sooth the mind and reduce the ‘background’ noise. Meditation gives our mind something to focus on, so it has an anchor to hold onto. Anchors may include saying a mantra, looking at an object, watching the breath or simple movements. An anchor also helps us be fully present and live in the moment – trying to stop thoughts of the past and future.
Holding onto these anchors helps quiet our minds and then we can get a glimpse of how the mind is working. We can then get to see our worries, our obsessions and the busyness of the mind just like clouds floating in the sky. Potentially, we can choose to let these things go as we put some perspective onto the thoughts and see them as just that – thoughts. In a sense we develop our own method of managing our thoughts. Instead of our thoughts controlling us we get some control over them!
Some people see meditation like sitting at the shore of the ocean of your mind and just watching the waves come and go. We’re not pushing our thoughts away, or judging them but simply watching these thoughts as we’d watch the waves while sitting on the beach. And whilst on the beach watching each wave there’s also a sense of connection to something bigger, something that helps you put some perspective onto the thoughts.
But what if I can’t sit still? Or simply don’t have 5 minutes a day to practice? Don’t worry, meditation is not supposed to be something that is added to your to-do list. Fidgetty people are actually the ones who can benefit the most from meditation, as it helps you to r-e-l-a-x. You can meditate walking or gently moving the body in different ways as well as the traditional statue-like state. That said, being still in the body does help to be still in the mind, but this will come with practice and patience. There are many well respected studies that show how beneficial meditation is for stress reduction, productivity improvement and easing insomnia. You can read more about this here
On this MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS workshop you will take a light hearted tour around the important aspects of meditation and explore several different methods. It is experiential (you will do things) as well as being a little theoretical, giving you some background information which will hopefully inspire and fire you up to make time for meditation in your life.
Please book your place in class or email me via the Contact Us page.
Did you know that you can relieve pain in the back, neck and shoulders by looking after your feet? In fact, by giving your feet just a little attention your whole body can feel a lot better.
Yoga can sooth the feet, strengthen them and ease foot pain besides improving circulation, reducing swelling and smelling!! Thought that would get your attention! We tend to dislike and ignore our feet – plodding round on them all day, crammed into tight fitting boots and shoes. The only time we think about them is when the summer first comes around and we have to get them sandal-fit or when they cause us trouble. The result of this is that 7 in 10 of us will suffer from foot problems as we age – most of which are entirely preventable.
Problems that occur with our feet include –
Bunions – a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. The medical name is hallux valgus. The main sign of a bunion is the big toe pointing towards the other toes on the same foot, which may force the foot bone attached to it (the first metatarsal) to stick outwards.
Hammer Toe – a bending deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth (little) toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time.
Tendinitis – an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle.
Plantar fascitis – pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. The pain is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or following a period of rest.
Whilst some may see these as niggling minor ailments, foot problems can alter the foot’s structure and trigger pain elsewhere in the body. If your feet show any signs of pain or discomfort it’s most important to treat it as early as possible or EVEN BETTER prevent them from happening in the first place.
Yoga is great for prevention and can be used to correct some foot ailments. If you habitually place more weight on one foot than the other this will throw the knee joints, hip joints and spine out of alignment causing problems and pain at some point in the future.
Yoga treats the feet as the foundation of all standing postures. Keeping the joints structurally aligned over the feet ensures that the weight distribution is correct. Stretching the feet and taking them through their full range of motion keeps a healthy circulation which in turn helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Yoga gives the feet a far better workout than any other form of exercise as we work bare foot – it’s a great set of tools for awakening and enlivening our feet.
In this workshop we’ll be bringing the focus to our feet – using them for balance, building strength, getting creative and super flexy! Be prepared to work in bare feet, as this is the best way to see and feel what is going on.
We’ll be working with a short routine that you can practice at home (a take away sheet will be provided). The more you can do yourself to keep your feet healthy, the better – little and often is the key.
To end the first section we’ll work with Viparita Karani ( Legs up the Wall pose) which helps to relax the feet (and the person as well!!).
Following a short coffee break, we’ll develop a stronger routine to help build strength in the ankles, legs and feet. This work aids good alignment of the lower body which in turn will help to prevent back problems. Finally we’ll conclude with a relaxation exercise to sooth the feet, body and mind.
As space is limited, early booking is recommended. You can book your place by emailing me here.
Partner yoga allows you to gain a another dimension to the usual yoga practice. It’s way more fun and far easier! And a great way to start yoga.
If you want to get the maximum out of yoga with the minimum effort – then try partner yoga. By using each other for heat, motivation, anatomy analysis, and not to mention physical support, every aspect of the yoga class benefits. Getting stronger, relaxing deeper, releasing tension mentally and physically, letting go and opening onto another level.
In this new workshop we’ll warm up by sitting back to back with a partner. In an instant you’ll be asking yourself why you haven’t tried this before. The heat from the other persons back warms you with no effort at all. The spine feels better already – back ache? What back ache? And then we begin to move – very gently – communicating at all times with our partner (remember you can’t see them). And so the class goes on, twisting, balancing, watching, supporting, encouraging, learning all done in the spirit of fun and investigation.
We’ll spend the first hour with gentle poses easing tension from the body with the focus on the back, neck and shoulders. Afterwards taking a relaxation exercise based on the Buddhist Metta Meditation (sending our thoughts out to those we love, don’t mind and finally don’t really like). Seeing the benefits of sharing our practice with a partner helps our comprehension that we are not alone, we are all in ‘it’ together and this is felt on many levels.
Following a short coffee + biscuit break we’ll begin to work developing more supported standing and balancing postures. Focusing on the alignment of the body and where support can be used. We’ll then take a breathing practice helping to balance our energy before reclining into Shavasana, relaxation, in a practice that will imbue a sense of deep peace and connection with all humanity.
You can come with a partner or find one at the workshop. You’ll have the option of working alone at any time if you prefer. The workshop is designed as a gentle, heart opening practice and will leave you feeling stretched, relaxed, deeply nourished and truly a part of one world!
As space is limited, early booking is recommended. You can book your place by emailing me here.
Yoga is a great practice to get into to alleviate symptoms of the Menopause. There are specific practices to help with hot flushes and stomach aches but also more general, all round practices that will help to overcome the feelings of depression and sadness that can accompany this phase of life.
Last year a new Yoga Centre opened in Sheffield. Some students may be interested in the workshops and retreats they offer… The leaders are very friendly, I have been on several of their workshops and training days before.
As you’ll see below, they have some real treats in store for 2017.
The centre has a beautiful room for Yoga practice, but it is not huge and places are limited. Early booking is recommended for all these events.
Last weekend I ran 2 workshops with a focus on the “core”. These workshops are designed to take a more in depth investigation into a particular element of yoga. They are suitable for beginners and those new to yoga, but also offer the experienced student a chance to develop a level of understanding that is not possible in the time we have in the usual weekly class. All students gained a great insight with some commenting that it was a “really amazing class again” and “it was a good balance of exercises, I really enjoyed it”.
Pictured above we see a student from the Wednesday morning class in Ryhall using her core to balance in the plank posture. By using photographs and hands on adjustment she has familiarised herself with the correct alignment of the posture. This kind of attention to detail assists the development of proprioception – understanding where the body is and how it feels. The student can then use this information to help their personal practice and their practice within the class environment.
During this workshop we looked at how the core muscles help the body to work – asking questions like ‘where is the core?’ and ‘what does it do?’. We had discussions about how the core muscles help us in our day to day lives and took particular notice of which asanas effected the core the most.
In the next workshop we’ll be investigating asana to develop healthy backs. This work will be of a gentle nature with plenty of relaxation exercises, as I think many back problems arise from tension. Easing the back muscles and joints has to be ‘easy’ and the development of deeper breathing can help with releasing tight muscle tissue in the back.
All workshops include a handy home practice guide for students to take away. The idea being that, having learnt postures within the workshop, asana, pranayama and relaxation practices can then be continued at home.
If you are interested in coming along to one of the ‘Healthy Backs’ workshops, these will be held on March 7th in Ryhall (Saturday morning) and on March 8th in Preston (Sunday afternoon). Please email me to book a place.
The Preston Yoga Workshop will be rescheduled to November 16th – Sunday afternoon 2 – 4.30pm. Lightening struck the building last Saturday (11th October) and burnt out cables/switches/thingamujigies and all other things electrical. So we had no power on Sunday and had to abandon our workshop which was a pity. Never mind! Think of it as an opportunity to come back and have another go… I’m pleased to say that the hall managers worked fantastically to get electrical fixers out on both Sunday and Monday so that we were warm and cosy for my Tuesday classes. A BIG thank you to you!
For all those who couldn’t make it and wanted to join in now is your chance! Please contact me asap to book your spot.