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?

 

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.

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!

 

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

Wirral Summer Solstice Yoga Festival Sunday 25th June 2017 @ Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa

Hi Everyone,

We are really pleased to announce that we have been added to the Wirral Summer Solstice Yoga Festival taking place on Sunday 25th June 2017 at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa.

This will be a great event and an opportunity to try out different types of Yoga and different teachers.

We will be teaching Gentle Yoga and meditation in the afternoon from 13:35 – 15:00 and there will be tea / coffee and cake available directly after we finish the session, sounds pretty good to us!

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I’ve included the link to the event on Facebook below where you can find further details.

Facebook Event link for Wirral Summer Solstice Yoga Festival

Tickets can be purchased at www.yogahealthwirral.com.

Yoga Health Wirral

Hope to see you there for a day of pampering and Yoga!


Paul & Steve

Yogasmiths

One to one Yoga Sessions – Spotlight on Catherine

I have just got back from teaching a one to one Yoga session to our lovely yoga student Catherine in the sunshine in Ashton Park, West Kirby. What a perfect way to spend the afternoon!

Catherine was completely new to Yoga when I started teaching her in January this year. She has made fantastic progress in her practice with each session and has established a home practice from the handouts and guidance that we provide.

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Catherine allowed me to take a picture of her (above) in Halasana (plough pose) this afternoon. This posture shows the progress she has made and demonstrates perfect form with strength, stability and ease. Catherine has noticed her strength and flexibility improve and has found the breathing techniques and relaxations beneficial in dealing with life in general!

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The second picture above is how we end our practice, with a guided relaxation. Today we had the pleasure of being able to relax in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine in the beautiful natural surroundings of Ashton Park. We had a curious little blackbird wandering around whilst we practiced!

In addition to our weekly group classes we provide private one to one yoga sessions. For more information please check out One to One Yoga