World Mental Health Day 10th October 2017

It is World Mental Health day today, Tuesday 10th October 2017. Most people suffer at some point during their life with a mental health problem.

This can range from a period of work related stress and anxiety to a more complex mental health condition. Sometimes these challenges can come right out of the blue and hit us.

Yoga is an excellent way of helping to build our resilience to mental health challenges and is also a wonderful recuperative practice.

Both Steve and I have used yoga to help us at various times in our lives. We first ventured to a yoga class when Steve was living with depression and we thought we would see if it would help. Steve found that the yoga really helped him and was a step towards recovery. I also found that the yoga helped me in many ways and I hadn’t realised that I needed it! That was the start of our regular yoga practice that has lead us to becoming yoga teachers!

I have also used yoga and breathing techniques to deal with periods of work related anxiety when I was working in middle management. Yoga techniques can provide you with the space that is all so important when the mind feels so busy and full.

There is an excellent article written by Dr Mercola titled Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health.

The following is an extract from it and there is a link to the full article below;

Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain

Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:

Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.

Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11

“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …

The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.

Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.

When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”

By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.

Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12

 

Here is a link to the full article;

Yoga and the Brain – Dr Mercola article

We always ensure in our Traditional Hatha Yoga classes that we teach our students a range of different breathing exercises and different guided relaxation so that everyone can find one to suit themselves that they can use in their day to day lives.

Namaste

Paul

 

Guest BWY Yoga Teacher – Yvette Sanderson Friday 13th October 2017 @ 6:15pm – West Kirby Arts Centre

We have a special guest teacher coming to teach a Traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise and a guided relaxation.

Yvette Sanderson is a lovely yoga teacher and a good friend of ours. This class is offered FREE to our yoga students but is also open to others at a cost of £5 for the session.

Facebook event link

We met Yvette on our journey as yoga teachers, here’s a pic of us in Spain on a week’s intensive training;

22375426_336497973487869_15104498_o

We are looking forward to being students ourselves in this class as Yvette leads us through a beautiful practice. Below is a little information from Yvette;

“My yoga journey began many many years ago when I rolled out my mat for the first time in an Ashtanga class. Although a ‘baptism of fire’, Ashtanga mirrored and worked well with my personality at that time and served me well for many years to follow. Ashtanga is still my ‘go to’ practice.

Through the years I become interested in the philosophy of Yoga. As I delved deeper into this amazing gift I realised that I have actually been practicing, all be it not Asana based, yoga all of my life. Brought up to respect others, kindness and consideration, to think good of all things and to be content and at ease with myself was simply a reflection of the first two limbs of Yoga.

Through the years, as my inner child grew calmer so has my practice and teaching of yoga. My teachings are Hatha Yoga, based on harmony and grounding, teaching from the heart with love and passion to encourage positive change on and off the mat”

Namaste

Paul & Steve x

Gentle Years Yoga training – Knaresborough

We’ve had a great weekend at the Yorkshire Yoga Centre, a British Wheel of Yoga Approved Regional Centre in Knaresborough,  training in Gentle Years Yoga with Laura Bissell and Jenny Howsam.

21844358_10150964999239980_460291708_o

We have been through lots of seated versions of Yoga postures, supported standing postures and looked at the use of props and equipment to allow yoga to be accessible to all.

21706601_10150964999184980_1558999228_o

It was really nice to sit in on a real Gentle Years Yoga class and to speak to the students afterwards and hear what brought them to yoga and why they keep up their practice. Interestingly many of the students had experienced age related falls and an associated loss of confidence. Gentle Years Yoga had really helped to increase their strength, improve their balance and build back their confidence.

We are really enthused about the Gentle Years Yoga programme and its excellent blend of mobilisation, seated yoga, heart rate raising activity, dexterity exercises and not forgetting fun!

We will be looking to start out Gentle Years Yoga classes very soon, stay tuned for more information and announcements! If you are interested in the classes or interested on behalf of a family member please do not hesitate to get in touch at yogasmithsorg@gmail.com 

Namaste

Paul & Steve

 

 

Yogasmiths at Wirral Earth Festival – Saturday 9th September 2017 11am – 5pm – FREE PRIZE DRAW!

We just wanted to let people know that we are going to have a table at Wirral Earth Festival at St Bridget’s Church and fields on Saturday 9th September 11am – 5pm. We will be in the holistic healing / therapy area and are happy to talk to people about yoga and our classes.

Further details for Wirral Earth Festival can be found here; Link to Earth Fest 2017. Its a great day out with lots of interesting stalls and live music.

We will have some information and literature with us about the Gentle Years Yoga programme that we will be starting to teach soon in the local area. This is a yoga programme / class for people with age related health conditions or for those who are advancing in years and would benefit from a gentle class. This does not mean that it is exclusively for older people though! People can begin to experience age related health issues at any age. However, age itself can be a limiting factor for physical activity as we progress into old age and the Gentle Years Yoga classes will be suitable for those who are perhaps just “feeling their age.”

The Gentle Years Yoga programme was put together by the British Wheel of Yoga and a study carried out by the Arthritis society. We will have some information about this with us at Earth Fest.

We will have an expression of interest list where people can leave their name, number and / or email address to be contacted when we start the Gentle Years Yoga classes. If you have any relatives with age related health conditions that may be interested in this gentle form of yoga please let them know.

We will also have information about our current Yoga classes and details of our new Monday class starting in Pensby. People will be able to sign up for these classes or leave contact information.

 

21534253_10150960092444980_1968973896_o

Finally! FREE PRIZE DRAW!

We will be giving away three prizes;

  1. A brand new Yoga mat
  2. A copy of the excellent book Yoga Quest by Paul Fox (Chair of the British Wheel of Yoga)
  3. A voucher for a free yoga class with Yogasmiths for you and a friend

In order to enter all you need to do is leave us your name, email address and / or phone number, and if you have Facebook, like and share our page on Facebook. The winners will be drawn at random at the end of the day and notified.

Thanks and hope to see you at Earth Fest

Paul & Steve

New Weekly Yoga Class in Pensby – starting Monday 2nd October 2017 @ 7:00pm

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that we are pleased to announce that we are starting a new weekly evening Yoga class in Pensby. The class starts on Monday 2nd October 2017.

The class will be at 7pm till 8:30pm in the Activity Studio in Pensby Sports Complex at Pensby High School on Irby Road. You go in the entrance that is opposite Fishers Lane and drive round the back of the building to the car park and the entrance is there. There is plenty of parking spaces (free) and also changing room / showers that you can use.

Here is a link to the event on our Facebook page;

Facebook Event

Here is a link to the location of Pensby School, please note the entrance is the one opposite Fishers Lane;

Location of Pensby School – google maps

This is the entrance on Irby Road;

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 17.29.32

Please share this with anyone who you think may be interested and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

enquiries@yogasmiths.org

Namaste

Paul & Steve

RainbowBiz Mind Body Spirit and Yoga Festival – Theatre Clwyd – Mold

We had a lovely morning at the free RainbowBiz Mind Body Spirit and Yoga Festival at the beautiful Theatre Clwyd in Mold, North Wales. The view from the room where the yoga was taking place was fantastic, across the valley and on to Moel Famau.

Our friend Netty Hodson was teaching the yoga sessions and it was great to see her again and take part in her class. We started with a nice mindfulness meditation then moved on to a flowing yoga practice and finished with a story relaxation.

20728211_10154952504312613_7433455251128666691_n

There was a little surprise towards the end of the Yoga flow practice when Netty got us up at the front to teach Double Tree aka Yogasmithsasana!

We even experimented before class with a triple tree pose with Netty!

20770039_10154952494587613_8673015981312815123_n

The Mind Body Soul and Yoga Festival was organised by RainbowBiz Limited which is a Social Enterprise working in the community to support organisations and individuals. They are passionate about supporting diversity and celebrating difference in their community For more information about them www.facebook.com/RainbowBiz #RainbowBiz Visit www.rainbowbiz.org.uk or email info@rainbowbiz.org.uk

Thanks to Ali Jones for the photos!

 

Guys do Yoga too!

Yoga was originally an exclusively male activity prior to it being brought over to the West. Often these days yoga class attendance is predominantly and often exclusively female. Men in general appear to have drifted away from yoga and some are often put off by the thought of being the only guy in the class.

This week in West Kirby we had our highest turn out of men in attendance at our class. Out of 20 people we had 7 men in the class. This was also on a week when one of our regular male members was unable to come.

Steve and I are pleased that through our weekly classes we are able to share yoga with both men and women. Initially we had just a couple of men in the class and they often sat towards the rear, over the weeks they slowly moved forward and this week most of the front row was male.

So if there are any guys out there that fancy trying yoga you will be welcome at our friendly yoga class and can join or burgeoning group of male yogis! We teach an inclusive class suitable for all abilities. There is no such thing as being not flexible enough for yoga! That is the perfect reason for doing Yoga!

And of course not forgetting our lovely dedicated female yogini’s that come to our class every week!

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) completed!

Hello!

I thought I would share with you that I have just completed a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course with Rita Bennet and Pauline Johnson at Hoylake Parade Community Centre. I love learning and am always looking at ways to continue our professional development as Yoga Teachers.

The MBSR course was very enjoyable and gave me some useful personal insights. The way Rita and Pauline teach the course and the structure of the course ensure that mindfulness is looked at from many different angles. This empowers you to realise how mindfulness can be woven into every aspect of life.

Prior to attending the course I had a good knowledge of mindfulness and regularly practice mindfulness both as a meditation practice and also in activities in life. However, this course really helped me to make progress on my mindfulness journey and I would highly recommend it.

Rita and Pauline also provide a weekly handout to take home with you to assist your practice along with CD’s of guided mindfulness meditations / relaxations. The course includes a silent day of mindfulness which at first sounded rather daunting but was great and actually I wanted to remain silent when we were told that we could begin talking again!

Mindfulness meditation has been proven to create new neural pathways in the brain, in essence hard wiring us to access relaxation more easily. At the same time we create new brain cells thus increasing the size of our brains!

We enjoy teaching a mindful approach in our yoga classes and we have woven many of the things I learnt on the MBSR course into our classes so that our students can benefit from mindfulness.

Rita and Pauline have a website where they list their courses, here is the link to it, check it out!

B Mindful website

Happy International Yoga Day 2017!

Today is the third International Yoga Day, 21 June 2017!

The idea of international Day of Yoga was the first proposed by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi during his speech at the UNGA, on 27 September 2014. 

He beautifully described Yoga in his speech as follows;

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

— Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly

So wherever you are, do some Yoga today! Honouring our practice of Yoga and all of the teachers that brought it to us and continue to.

Remember that your Yoga practice is personal to you and can be anything from taking a few deep Yogic breaths during your day to completing the full Ashtanga Primary Series. We have our Hoylake Yoga class this evening from 6:45pm at Hoylake Parade Community Centre, so please come along and practice with us and celebrate International Yoga Day 2017.

Let us all spend a moment for ourselves today, on International Yoga Day. Connect with our breath, anchor ourselves in the moment through our breath and allow ourselves to witness and experience the union (Yoke) of breath, body and mind.

Be mindful, be Yoga.

Namaste

Paul & Steve

West Kirby Pop-up Beach Yoga – Thank you!

We want to say a big thank you to all of the lovely people who came this morning to our Yogasmiths pop-up beach yoga session!

We had a great group and it was a pleasure to be able to lead them through a yoga practice overlooking the beautiful Dee Estuary on a perfect sunny summers day.

We had a fun nautical theme to the class and the postures that we practiced.

A small forest of perfect palm trees;

palmtrees

We had surfing beach warriors;

surfingbeachwarriors

Channeling our inner Kate Winslet’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s in Titanic Warrior pose aka King of the World pose;

titanic pose

Here is rowing the boat / rowing Navasana;

Building up to our own individual expression of full boat pose, Navasana;

boat

And finishing our sunny morning practice with a guided relaxation on the beach, a perfect end to the session!

beach relaxation

Thank you to all who attended and stayed tuned to our Facebook page for further pop-up yoga sessions. Namaste Paul & Steve x

Yogasmiths Facebook Page