Our top 5 tips for balance

Following on the heels of our Mini Balance workshop at the Om Yoga Show Manchester, here are our Top 5 Tips for balance!

Balance is not just a physical element to a pose. Balance in the mind and the breath is equally as important. 

When the mind becomes agitated, so too does the body.

Breath practice (pranayama), breath-led movement in asanas, and guided relaxation can be utilised to find this balance in the mind, the body and in life

In order to find balance in your balancing asanas these five top tips are essential:

    1. Strong foundation and sthira (steadiness) – A strong, steady base in those parts of the body that make up the foundations of the pose, drawing energy up through the body from our stable foundation.                                                                      e.g. in standing balances lifting and spreading the toes, gripping the mat with the toes, weight in the heel and side of the foot, a natural arch to the foot. Active muscles in leg, micro-bend to the knees, engaging pelvic floor and core.
    1. Sukha (ease) – Finding ease and lightness in the posture. The pose isn’t stiff and adjust it whenever required. Softness in the pose and fluidity in mindful movement both in and out of the pose. Using the breath to cultivate a sense of sukha.                                                             
    1.   Drishti (focus) – Very important – focus with soft gaze on particular point e.g. The hands in Low Lunge pose (anjaneyasana). The drishti aids concentration, focus and mindfulness. Still mind = still body
    1. Satya (truthfulness) – Practise with truth, listen to your body. Use a staged approach into each posture. Use modifications and props when needed (props are for all!). Props allow us to explore what our own body’s ability is in each posture whilst aiding correct alignment. Same benefits are achieved with props e.g. using the wall to aid balance in tree pose we still gain leg strength, balance, focus and hip opening. Remember to rest when needed and ease back or release if uncomfortable. Listen to the body and make any micro-adjustments throughout.
    1. Have a try! – Don’t worry about being wobbly or losing your balance. Try to let go of attachment to the ego – self judgement/frustration. If wobbly, ease back or perhaps try previous step on staged approach e.g. Keeping toes on floor in Crow Pose (Bakasana). Can always gently release and rest when required and perhaps try again. Remember to make use of props and modifications to posture. Approach wobbliness/losing balance with a gentle smile on our faces – find lightheartedness in practising poses and in losing balance/wobbliness and trying again. Can we approach life in this way?

 

Guest blog – Mollie in Africa!

One of our regular Monday Yoga class members, Mollie, is currently in Africa doing some charity work. She kindly agreed to do a guest blog for us so we could see what she is up to. Its great to see her showing the children some yoga postures!

Here is her guest blog;

Hi I’m Mollie!

I have come out to Africa to do some charity work in a local school and hospital. I have been doing this for 4 years now, helping teach basic hygiene and also some English language and drama.

 

I got into doing this with my grandma as she found the hospital and school and wanted to make a difference and wanted to help improve their lives.

Today was the first day visiting the gorgeous children of Bright Star School. 416 children to be exact!!

We played games, sang songs, played musical instruments and even got time to practice some yoga.

It can be so overwhelming at times when you have 20+ children all wanting to hold your hands. But at the same time they inspire me so much as they are so keen to learn something new and love trying something different. They’re all beautifully mannered and an absolute pleasure to be working with for the week.

Mollie

Om Yoga Show – Manchester – Saturday 21st April 2018

Hi,

We just wanted to let everyone know that we are teaching at the Om Yoga Show in Manchester on Saturday 21st April at 14:15-14:45 at Event City.

We are really looking forward to being part of this great festival and Steve is particularly excited about teaching in his home city of Manchester!

We will be teaching a mini balance workshop where we will explore the foundations and essence of balancing. We will teach our top 5 tips for finding balance in the body, mind and in life. The class will be FREE for people attending the festival.

Om Yoga Show Manchester programme

Here is a link to eventbrite where you can purchase tickets for the festival;

Tickets for Om Yoga Show

Please note that if you are a member of the British Wheel of Yoga then you can get free tickets to the Om Yoga Show at this link;

BWY free tickets link

If you would like to join the British Wheel of Yoga you can do so here, there are also details here of the benefits of joining such as the great quarterly Spectrum magazine which we have recently given away some free copies off at our classes;

Join the BWY

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

Facebook event for Om Yoga Show

thanks and hope to see you there

Namaste

Paul & Steve x

Well Being Yoga Fest BWY Congress 2018 23rd-25th March 2018

We had a great time at this years British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) Yoga Fest at Warwick University. We thought we would report back on the weekend to share it with you all.

We arrived at Warwick Uni in the afternoon, checked in to our accommodation and went and picked up our session tickets and welcome packs.

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My first session was with a lovely Italian Yoga Teacher called Elena which was called “Lost in Translation: Intelligent and functional sequencing.” This was a great session with lots of wonderful detailed instruction moving through some simple yet very strengthening movements.

After a delicious lunch was one of the headline sessions of the weekend, a talk by Dr Timothy McCall on the Holistic Science of Yoga Therapy. Dr McCall is an American MD and explained his approach to yoga therapy. He has published a book compiling all of the papers and evidence on the efficacy of yoga for a range of different ailments. To date I think he has a list of 101 conditions that yoga has been proven to help by scientific studies. Here is a link to the list off his website;

101 Health Conditions Helped By Yoga

And here is a link to his website too;

Dr McCall’s website

This talk was then followed by a presentation on the work carried out with the NHS. This was delivered by The Minded Institute’s Heather Mason and was titled Yoga in the NHS. Heather detailed the 10 week NHS pilot scheme that has been run in London and the very positive initial findings from this study. These results will be written up and a paper published in the future. Hopefully this will roll out nationwide! Heather is a director of the Yoga in Health Care Alliance which is a social enterprise, here is a link to their website;

Yoga in Health Care Alliance

On Saturday our first session was with our yoga mamma Carol Price! We did our British Wheel of Yoga training with Carol Price and Paul Fox in Salford and are good friends with both of them. We always call Carol our Yoga Mamma! The session was a beautiful flowing sequence focusing on Dividing the Yogic Body. There is always something to learn from great teachers such as Carol and we came away with plenty of ideas for our classes!

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The next session we attended was a very interesting and informative session with Jo Creaser about Social Prescribing / working in a deprived area of Norfolk. This was an informal conversational session and it was great to learn how Jo had brought yoga to deprived areas in Norfolk and the continuing good work she is doing with people of all ages. Here is a link to Jo’s website;

The Yoga Nook

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Another headline session followed delivered by the American author Elliot Goldberg who wrote the fantastic book The Path of Modern Yoga. Elliot talked about some of the key players in the field of yoga and the development of traditional yoga into the modern yoga class we know and love. Elliot’s book is a wonderful read and busts a lot of myths about yoga and its origins!

The British Wheel of Yoga AGM followed with a presentation on all the hard work and progress made by the NEC over the last year. It made us feel very proud to be members of the BWY.

The next session for me was an Ashtanga Yoga workshop with Scott Johnson and Andy Gill. I was so glad that they were here again after attending their great sessions last year. They are such intelligent and intuitive teachers and their approach to Ashtanga is very inspiring. With the help of my good friend Sharlene I was able to fold forwards into the most comfortable and deepest version of Paschimottanasana that I had ever done!

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In the evening there was a very entertaining lesson in Argentine Tango! This fitted in perfectly to the Yoga Fest, the mindful movement of the body to the music really resonated with the yoga practitioners and teachers present. I had the pleasure of dancing with two lovely people, Nina (pictured below) and a Yoga Teacher from Southport called Pam. Next stop Strictly Come Dancing!

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After the clocks turning forward an hour overnight the 6am Ashtanga Yoga class was tough to get up for but I managed it. In reality it was 5am to my body clock! The class was led by Scott Johnson and Andy Gill and was a lovely way to start the morning. Here is a link to their websites;

Scott Johnson Still Point Yoga London

Andy Gill

We had a little break then in the sunshine and had some fun being photographed!

After a final session on Wellbeing and Yoga Therapy and we then attended the closing of the weekend with a talk from The Indian High Commissioner and Amarjeet Bhama from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Traditional Indian Science. The UK is at the forefront of trying to integrate yoga into health care and this is an emerging area to look  out for!

A leisurely trip home along the A-roads through Cheshire and the BWY YogaFest was over for another year. It goes much too quickly!

BWY Yogafest is open to all BWY members both yoga student and yoga teacher members. To join the BWY follow the link below;

Join BWY

All photographs are either my own or Tori Williams.

Yogasmiths Christmas Charity Raffle Donation to Wirral’s Homeless CIC

Thank you to all those who took part in our Yogasmiths Christmas Charity Raffle. As we discussed in class, Christmas and the start of the new year is a great opportunity to practice Karma yoga via charitable giving.
There were many prizes on offer;
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The winner of our top prize, a block of 6 Yogasmiths classes and a box of After Eight mints, was Lisa Shaw from West Kirby;
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We raised nearly £80 from the raffle. We have donated £100 to a local Community Interest Company that feed the local homeless. They are called Wirral’s Homeless CIC. They have a facebook page at;

Wirral’s Homeless CIC

They can also be contacted by email at:

wirralshomeless@hotmail.com

If you would like to donate any money to the group they would be most grateful to receive it and they accept bank transfer of a Paypal. Wonderful local groups like this are dependant on the generosity of others.

Namaste

Paul & Steve

First Annual Yogasmiths Christmas Get Together – Thursday 21st December 8.30pm – West Kirby Arts Centre

As a thank you to all our class members who have supported us throughout this year we are hiring West Kirby Arts Centre for the whole evening of Thursday 21st December!

Our Yogasmiths Christmas party will start straight after class at 8.30pm. All of our students from our Pensby, Hoylake and West Kirby classes past and present are welcome to come along and join in the festivities! Dress code is anything goes although Christmas jumpers, hats, etc are positively encouraged.

Entry is of course free! We only ask that attendees bring along snacks/food if possible for a buffet to share with your fellow friends/yoga students. Any contribution big or small is welcome. There will also be a bar open for those who wish to have a Christmas tipple. Of course soft drinks will also be available.

There will be the usual Christmas music in our first annual Yogasmiths Disco (Yogasmithsco)……think Mariah, the Pogues, Phil Spector’s Christmas album etc…and we will be more than happy to take requests!

We look forward to welcoming you to our Yogasmiths Christmas get together!

Further details available on our Facebook page : Facebook event page

See you all there

Paul & Steve x

West Kirby Light Opera Society – Stars in their Eyes night!

Tia and Ben, two of our regular yoga students at our weekly Hoylake Yoga class kindly invited us to attend the West Kirby Light Opera Society Stars in their Eyes night.

It was held in Westbourne Hall and was a fantastic night out. Steve and I took my mum to see it and we all had a great time.

All of the performers were wonderful. There was Johnny Cash, Kate Bush, The Supremes, Michael Buble, Dean Martin, K D Lang, George Michael, Roy Orbison, Shirley Bassey, Taylor Swift, Bewitched, Tina Turner, Cindy Lauper, Nancy Sinatra, Grace Jones and more! The Winner was the very fierce Grace Jones. She had everyone on the edge of their seats wondering if they were going to be picked on from a very in character temperamental Grace Jones!

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We were overwhelmed by Tia who performed as Shirley Bassey, Kate Bush and Diana Ross and the Supremes. Our personal favourite was her turn as Kate Bush performing Wuthering Heights complete with the famous dance!

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The Yoga has got to help with a dance routine like this;

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Ben too was in fine voice as the man in black Johnny Cash performing Ring of Fire, complete with a Tijuana Brass man in the background!

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Tia is heavily involved in putting the night together and is also a key member of the West Kirby Light Opera society. The night was a great success and we will be sure to return next year!

Check out the website for the West Kirby Light Opera Society and their up coming events here;

West Kirby Light Opera Society

Paul

Spotlight on – Esperanza Holistics – West Kirby

One of our regular West Kirby yoga students Ludmila has her own business, Esperanza Holistics, based in West Kirby.

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Ludmila offers Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Reiki, Deep Tissue massage, Seated Acupressure massage; either as individual treatments, or usually as a wonderful combination.

Both of us had a lovely massage from Ludmila and we both felt fantastic afterwards. We have booked in for another and I think we will make it a regular thing! We have both had a number of massages before and Ludmila provided one of the best massages we have ever had, we highly recommend her!

A combination of a regular yoga practice and regular massage is a recipe for good physical and mental health.

Esperanza Holistics is situated in a specially dedicated room in a family house, in the centre of West Kirby.

Find out more information at Ludmila’s website at;

Esperanza Holistics

Namaste

Paul & Steve

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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.

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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!

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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!