Brightening our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga by Norman Blair – Book Review

Brightening our Inner Skies – Yin and Yoga by Normal Blair is a wonderful personal reflection on a journey through yoga. It is also a guide to Yin Yoga and a commentary on how Yoga and social responsibility are more relevant than ever.

What’s it all about?

I bought this book at the beginning of 2018 after we had booked to attend some training with Norman. Therefore, I wanted to get a feel for what Norman was about before the course. What I find most refreshing and appealing about this book is that Norman is very real. He writes openly and honestly about his journey through yoga and the shifting and changing challenges that life throws at us. As a result this book resonated with me and made it feel reassuring and life affirming.

The book is presented with lots of inspiring quotes and references. It pulls together lots of information from an array of sources. Those who have been taught by Norman will know of his ability to quote and recite interesting and thought provoking pieces, weaving them through his sessions. This book takes the pressure off you having to remember them! Norman has kindly compiled them here for us!

Norman passionately relates and reflects on the relevance of Yin Yoga as an antidote to modern society and life. My own personal experience of Yin helped me through a challenging transitionary period of my life.

What Yin Yoga has meant to me

After 15 1/2 years working at a desk, I took redundancy to become a Yoga Teacher. As a result I left a busy middle management job in the Civil Service which had required me to travel all over the country pretty much on a weekly basis. Consequently transitioning to being at home and taking time to adjust was a challenge. As a result I was drawn instinctively to a Yin Yoga practice, a calming nurturing practice that I had been introduced to via a workshop. This had been with the wonderful British Wheel of Yoga teacher Paul Wooding in Liverpool. Paul has a very real and nurturing approach. I travelled to his Wednesday morning Yin classes as often as I could and they helped with my transition from such a busy “doing” office lifestyle to a new chapter in my life.

You can read a bio for both of us and details of the training we have undertaken here: https://yogasmiths.org/about/

Training with Norman

We were lucky enough to undertake Yin Yoga teacher training with Norman Blair at Yoga Campus in Manchester back in June 2018. We As a result of spending time with Norman it really brought to life the content of his book and it was great to meet him and train with him.

At the Yoga Campus training in Yin Yoga with Norman Blair

As a Yoga teacher, Brightening our Inner Skies is a great resource and reference guide. Hence, it happily sits alongside my Bernie Clark Yin Yoga book. For me, a great yoga book is one that I read with a pencil, a highlighter and some sticky page markers. This is one of those books, a book that you want to make sure you can easily find a quote or a phrase in, a book that you want to dip in and out of for some time to come.

Brightening Our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga – with plenty of tabs to refer back to!

In Summary

Brightening our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga is both a guide to Yin, teaching Yin and also a way finder for the modern world. Thank you to Norman for realising this book, I highly recommend it.

You can find out more about Norman Blair here;

https://www.yogawithnorman.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/Yoga-with-Norman-183652105002257/
https://www.instagram.com/yogawithnorman/
https://twitter.com/yogawithnorman

World Book Day 2019 – Svadhyaya (self-study)

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 which translates as self-study.

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 and 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 and 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?

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, 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.

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. Mum would take me down to Chapter One bookshop in West Kirby and 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.

Today is World Book Day, Thursday 7th March 2019. 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 22nd year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 7th March 2019, 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 http://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

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.

 

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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

Yoga Quest by Paul Fox – Book Review

Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the right book to read at the right time in our lives. Yoga Quest was certainly the right book for me at this point in my Yoga journey.

Paul Fox ,the author, is the current Chair of the British Wheel of Yoga. His knowledge and experience of his subject matter is evident.

Yoga Quest is a really easy read and quite the page turner. The author’s skill in this novel is to educate you as you read. The journey of the main character, Joe Knightly on his Yoga Quest to discover the true meaning of Yoga, is a wonderful vehicle for the readers own learning.

Joe’s 2 year long Yoga Quest takes in all of the main types of Yoga, the history of Yoga and the main famous teachers. As a reader I related to the main characters reaction to certain aspects of the Yoga journey and the current trends in yoga. The reader is given a comprehensive overview of Yoga through the plot of the book. The foreign locations in the book really come alive and make me want to visit them.

It is not often I read a book and feel the need to have pen and paper to hand to jot down things to enquire into myself. After finishing reading Yoga Quest I now have a list which forms my very own Yoga Quest and I am thoroughly looking forward to starting it! I also have a renewed appreciation and love for Janu Sirsasana!

If you are interested in Yoga, new to Yoga or even on your own Yoga journey, I would recommend this book to you. It is a great read!

You can buy a copy direct from the author, Paul Fox, here;

http://corestrengthyoga.co.uk

Alternatively it is also available on Amazon.

Paul Smith, Yogasmiths