British Wheel of Yoga Diploma course certificates

Our British Wheel of Yoga Diploma Course Certificates arrived earlier this year. We finished the training last year but the certificates take a little while to be issued. But they are certainly worth waiting for!

British Wheel of Yoga Diploma certificates
Paul & Steve modelling their Diploma certificates!

The British Wheel of Yoga Diploma in teaching yoga is a Level 4 diploma. Learning hours on the course are a minimum of 500 hours. It comprises eight units as follows;

  1. Applied Anatomy and Physiology and the Teaching of Asana
  2. Yoga Breathing Practices and Relaxation
  3. Planning for Teaching and the Responsibilities of a Yoga Teacher
  4. Planning and Delivering a Yoga Course
  5. Teaching Asana: Observation, Adjustment and Protection of Vulnerable Areas of the Body
  6. Hatha Yoga and Pranayama
  7. The Teaching and Philosophy of Meditation
  8. Progression in Yoga

As a result of the above units you get a fantastic grounding in all things yoga. The British Wheel of Yoga qualifications actually prepare you to teach yoga.

OFQUAL regulated

OFQUAL regulated qualification

In the corner of our British Wheel of Yoga Diploma certificates is the OFQUAL logo. OFQUAL is the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation and regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. (Here is their website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual ) This means that the British Wheel of Yoga course must meet certain regulatory framework requirements. It also means that every course has a verifier who check the standard of the training and the written work.

The world of Yoga teacher training is unregulated and as such the quality of trainings vary massively. This varies from short courses below 200 hours and even some correspondence courses. The industry standard is 200 hours which is often crammed into a month long period via a trip to an exotic location. As a former learning and development professional I know that cramming intense learning into such a short period of time is not good practice. Can you really learn a profession in one month? With the British Wheel of Yoga you are getting an OFQUAL regulated 500 hour training course. This really is a reassuring mark of quality.

When searching out Yoga Teacher training courses, you are preparing to make a significant financial investment in your training. As a result make sure you do some due diligence to avoid being disappointed. The British Wheel of Yoga offer an unrivalled quality of teacher training as one would expect of the Governing Body for Yoga in the UK. You can check out their website here: https://www.bwy.org.uk/

We wrote a previous blog about our journey on the British Wheel of Yoga Diploma which you can find here: https://pauls93.sg-host.com/2019/09/23/the-british-wheel-of-yoga-diploma-journey/

British Wheel of Yoga Diploma certificates
Paul and Steve with their British Wheel of Yoga Diploma certificates

International Women’s Day 2020 – Eileen Ash 108 year old yogi!

International Women’s Day 2020 (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.

You can find out more about International Women’s Day at the day’s website here: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Meet 108 year old Eileen Ash!

On this day I wanted to share with you details of a very inspirational lady. I recently became aware of Eileen Ash aged 108. She attends a regular weekly yoga class near her home in Norwich.

International Women's Day 2020 Eileen Ash Norwich Yoga
Eileen Ash at her weekly Yoga class, picture from the Eastern Daily Press website, taken by Simon Finlay

I have read features about her at age 104 and 105 detailing her driving her little yellow mini to yoga each week. ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-37775585 )

She has had a very interesting life, having been a former English Test cricketer between the years of 1937 and 1949. In fact she is believed to be the oldest living international cricketer.

Eileen also worked in the civil service. She worked for MI6 during the war hunting spies. Eileen continued to wrk for them for 11 years.

A short video celebrating Eileen’s 105th birthday from the Norfolk Now youtube channel

Here is a feature from when she turned 107. She says here that “liking people” and “breathing” are the keys to a long life! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-norfolk-46103434/eileen-ash-the-secret-to-living-to-107-is-liking-people

As I write this, Eileen is 108 years old and continues to attend her weekly yoga class. She attributes her longevity to 2 glasses of red wine a day, yoga and living in Norwich! On International Women’s Day 2020 cheers Eileen!

Read our blog on 101 year old Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch here: https://yogasmiths.org/2020/02/28/worlds-oldest-yoga-teacher-passes-away-at-101/

We teach 2 regular weekly chair based Gentle Years Yoga© Classes at Hoylake Parade Community Centre on a Friday morning. Check out our classes page for more information: http://www.yogasmiths.org/classes

World Book Day 2020

World Book Day 2020 – Svadhyaya (self-study)

Today is World Book Day 2020 and we are going to look at how it links with the 8 limbs of yoga.

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali one of the 8 limbs of Yoga are the Niyama (limb number 2). These are five virtuous behaviours that Patanjali recommends that we cultivate in ourselves. The 4th Niyama is Svadhyaya. This translates as self-study. How does this fit in with World Book Day 2020?

There are two elements to this idea of self-study. There is the study of the self and there is self directed study. As today is World Book Day I am going to discuss the later.

Svadhyaya as self-directed study is the reading of books that will enrich our lives. Books that allow us to develop in a positive way. This is very much in line with what we would call “life-long learning’.

It is the study and reading of texts / films or documentaries that will enrich our lives. Material that will result in increase our knowledge of ourselves. Modern research has shown that continuing to learn new things late into life can in some cases help to fend off dementia and cognitive decline.

In his book Samadhi, Gregor Maehle interprets Svadhyaya as prioritising the desire to answer the following questions;

  • Who are we?
  • What is our true identity?
  • What is the purpose of our life?

Applying svadhyaya to life

Svadhyaya has quite a life changing implication here around our consumption of such things as newspapers and television. Are we watching television programmes that inspire us and enrich our lives? Or do we use television as “chewing gum for the eyes”? Are we reading newspapers that educate us? Or do they instil us with fear of the world? Svadhyaya is mindful consumption of television and media. Being aware of how such things make you feel.

Over the years I have reduced my consumption of television dramatically. As a result only choosing to occasionally watch documentaries and films. This has had a positive effect for me, I became aware that often certain television programmes left me feeling annoyed, frustrated or down. Removing this source of negativity can have an uplifting effect on your general mood. This all comes down to mindfulness and having a greater awareness of how such things make you feel. I have found more time to read books and to undertake study. I have always found books to be a rich source of inspiration not just philosophical books or yoga books but also biographies. Biographies can give us a good insight into other peoples experience of life, this can help us foster feelings of empathy and compassion allowing us to put ourselves in the place of the author.

My own love of books and reading

I have always enjoyed reading and this is something that my parents encouraged in me as a little boy. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but my parents always bought me a new book when I had read my current one. As a result this was encouragement to read! Mum would take me down to Chapter One bookshop in West Kirby and I would pick a Willard Price adventure book. These books transported me to exotic lands and exciting adventures and gave me a desire to travel when I was older.

I also loved Enid Blyton. Newton Post Office had a selection of children books and I would love looking at the selection of Famous Five titles. I read some of the Secret Seven books but my favourites were the Famous Five. The escapades of the five and Timmy the dog had me enthralled. Their adventures on Kirin Island felt almost possible for me with Hilbre Island sitting in the estuary. I remember my Dad telling me that smugglers used to use Hilbre Island and this made it all the more exciting and real!

When I was 7 years old we got a lovely little dog called Sandy and she was my “Timmy the dog” from the Famous Five stories. We would have lots of adventures in the fields around Newton, finding dens and watching foxes, rabbits and hares. This sense of exploration and interest in life and nature came directly from the books that I read.

This interest in books and knowledge stayed with me into adulthood and is a continuing gift that my parents gave to me by providing me with books as a child and by taking me for walks in nature.

World Book Day 2020

Today is World Book Day, Thursday 5th March 2020. The impact that reading and access to books can have on a child and the subsequent adult is great. I feel that encouraging reading is as important as ever in this age of modern technology. The purpose and aims of world book day from their website are below;

World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.


This is the 23rd year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 5th March 2020, children of all ages will come together to appreciate reading. Very loudly and very happily. The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. That’s why we will be sending schools (including those nurseries and secondary schools that have specially registered to participate), packs of Book Tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs (age-ranged into Nursery/Pre-School, Primary and Secondary) full of ideas and activities, display material and more information about how to get involved in World Book Day.

From www.worldbookday.com

Support World Book Day in any way that you can, it is a fantastic initiative!

Here is a link to the World Book Day website where there are lots of great resources; https://www.worldbookday.com

Check out our Book Review blogs at : https://pauls93.sg-host.com/category/book-review/

Gentle Years Yoga Class online

Gentle Years Yoga© certificates and new weekly class

We received our British Wheel of Yoga Gentle Years Yoga© teaching certificates recently. This marks the end of a two year period since undertaking the initial training. We were in the second wave of teachers after the pilot study to be taught how to teach the Gentle Years Yoga© chair based classes.

Yogasmiths with their Gentle Years Yoga© teaching certificates
Yogasmiths with their Gentle Years Yoga© teaching certificates

The Qualification

The qualification involved being assessed on age related anatomy and physiology. We were also assessed by a British Wheel of Yoga Diploma Course Tutor teaching the classes. In addition to the course work involved we have also prepared two case studies each to contribute to the growing body of anecdotal evidence to the effectiveness of chair based yoga. Thank you to the class members who very kindly assisted us with the case studies.

The initial pilot study demonstrated both physical and mental health benefits to the chair based yoga. As a result there is now a nationwide trial of Gentle Years Yoga© taking place which we are pleased to be part of. We will certainly share the result of this interesting piece of research once the trial concludes.

You can read about the research pilot with a link to the paper on this blog: Gentle Years Yoga classes – Hoylake – Chair based yoga

The Research Trial

You can find a previous blog about the start of the research trial here: A Great Start to the BWY Gentle Years Yoga National Research Trial

Our new weekly class

We have a new regular weekly Gentle Years Yoga© chair based yoga class starting. The class starts on Friday 28th February 2020 at 12:45pm in Hoylake Parade Community Centre. It takes place on the first floor in the Rehearsal Room. There is parking, disabled access and a lift.

The class includes full body mobilisations, strengthening activities, gentle pulse raising activities and modified yoga poses. We explore elements of yoga philosophy, breathing exercises and guided relaxations. In addition to all of that we have a social element to the classes. After each session we head down stairs to Popsy’s cafe and have a chat over tea and coffee. Consequently we get to know each other and it is a great opportunity to make some new friends.

You can find a link to the event on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/207148843819466/

You can also find further details on our website at: Classes

Gentle Years Yoga© class
Our Gentle Years Yoga© chair based class in Hoylake

Time to talk day – lets end mental health discrimination

Thursday 6th February 2020 is Time to Talk Day.

Time to talk Day is a yearly event aimed to encourage people to talk about mental health. The yearly initiative is promoted by Time To Change. https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/time-talk-day/resources-your-event

Time to Change exists to end the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems. As a result you can find resources to hold your own Time To Talk event at the link above.

The Time to Change website states that their aims are specifically:

  1. Improving public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
  2. Reducing the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work.
  3. Making sure even more people with mental health problems can take action to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities, in workplaces, in schools and online.
  4. Creating a sustainable campaign that will continue long into the future.

One in four of us in any year

Statistically, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. We all have mental health and at any given time our mental health will sit somewhere on a scale ranging from feeling great to feeling awful. This will change and it is normal for it to change and consequently our mental health can tip below a point where it starts to cause us problems. At this point when we need help and could do with talking about how we feel, unfortunately we often do not talk.

Time to talk day 2020
Check twice – often people say they are ok when they aren’t

The Time To Change website reports the following;

The overwhelming majority of people with mental health problems report being misunderstood by family members, shunned and ignored by friends, work colleagues and health professionals, called names and much worse by neighbours.

Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking help: this can delay treatment and impair recovery.  It isolates people, excluding them from day-to-day activities and making it hard to build new relationships or sustain current ones. It can stop people getting or keeping jobs.

Experiencing a mental health problem is hard enough, without having to deal with the shame and isolation that often comes with it.

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/why-attitudes-mental-health-matter

Our shared human experience

Mental Health problems can feel isolating as mentioned above. We should always remember our shared Humanity. We are all human beings having an experience of life. Part of this experience of life is that we have difficult times and challenges. Some of these challenges may by short in duration and some may last longer. Whatever we experience is part of being human and we are not alone in these experiences. Many other people have been through what you are going through, you are not the only person to feel the way you feel. When we allow ourselves to remember this and accept ourselves as being a human being having a human experience we can take a step back from our feelings of isolation.

Despite what lifestyle magazines, health and fitness magazines and social media portray, pretty much everyone will experience a mental health challenge at some point in their life. This is part of being human. Just as at some point in our life we will likely have physical health problems so too will we experience mental health problems. We are all human. Give yourself permission to be human and accept yourself as being human.

An opportunity to connect

Time To Talk day gives us an opportunity to connect with a greater sense of being part of a wider human experience of life. When we talk to others about mental health we work to remove the stigma around it. We spread the message that it is ok to not feel ok. It is part of our shared experience of being human to not feel ok.

Both Steve and I are open about our own mental health. Steve has detailed on our website in the About us section how it was a period of depression and mental health difficulties that led us to a regular yoga practice. Who knew that it would ultimately take us to where we are now! It was through talking about the challenges that he was facing that Yoga was recommended to us.

Steve, like many of us, has been through a number of episodes of depression and anxiety and continues to use the tools he has learnt over time to manage his mental health in his daily life. This has included talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication, yoga, healthy eating, self-care, mindfulness and exercise (too many to list!). And caring for our dog Archie! Steve has also learnt that no matter how bad things seem at the time, it will pass and you will feel better in time.

You can read the About us section of our website here: https://pauls93.sg-host.com/about/

My own mental health

One of my own experience of my Mental Health becoming a problem was with work related stress and anxiety. I can clearly recall sitting at my desk with a huge amount of work to do. Due to this my head felt like it was in a whirl and consequently I sat there unable to do anything. I felt frozen with anxiety. I felt aware that something was wrong and decided to take a walk in the fresh air. Upon returning to the office one of the receptionist asked me if I had been for a jog. As a result of this I went and looked in the mirror and saw someone who did indeed look they had been for a jog, sweating and red in the face.

In that moment, I made the decision to log off and go home. I used Yoga, walking and swimming to help me get through this difficult period. Sometimes I did not want to do those activities, but I never regretted when I did. Slowly I felt on more of an even keel. As a result of this period, I became more aware of what triggered my anxiety and stress. I explored Mindfulness more deeply and began to develop my tool kit of things to help me.

When we feel ok

Time to Change detail on their website that a lot of people think Mental Health is something that does not effect them or the people around them. This in itself is isolating. As a result of this way of thinking people are removing themselves from this shared human experience. We are all in this together. Let us remember this when we are feeling ok and be there for others. Take time to listen compassionately and mindfully to others, do not try to solve others problems, but listen to them. If we feel ok lets make sure we keep our eyes open for those who do not.

Our life long journey

Our life long journey is to learn to live with our fluctuating mental health. The fluctuations of our minds and our emotions. With Yoga, Mindfulness and self-compassion we can build our resilience and tool kit to navigate our way through life. Whatever we experience is part of being human, we are not alone. In my experience, we can learn to control our reactions to stressful events a little more, we can learn what our triggers are. As a result we can experience life less like an extreme rollercoaster and more like a gentle fairground ride! Difficulties still arise, mental health may still raise it’s head as a problem, life can throw many challenges at us. Talking can help us. It is Time to Talk and to help end discrimination and stigma around mental health.

You can find a previous blog containing tips for dealing with stress here; https://pauls93.sg-host.com/2018/05/19/mental-health-awareness-week-helpful-tips-to-deal-with-stress/