Blue Monday?…..Finding that inner calm

A marketing gimic?

It is likely to be widely reported that today is ‘Blue Monday’, apparently ‘the most depressing day of the year’. A quick google search reveals that the concept of ‘Blue Monday’ was actually coined by Sky Travel in 2005! (The google search also prompted me to listen to New Order whilst writing this blog!) I’m not sure how calling a day ‘the most depressing day of the year’ is meant to be helpful to us but it might just help to sell a few holidays! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Monday_(date)

It did get me thinking, however, that there is something to this concept of ‘Blue Monday’. It’s January in the UK. Christmas is a distant memory. The days are apparently getting longer but it’s a slow process. I could swear that’s it’s getting darker and not lighter in the mornings! It’s cold! It’s often raining and grey. We’re still awaiting payday! My point is….is it any wonder that all this can affect our mood?

Ways-to-Beat-the-January-Blues-e1453482331639.jpg
Is every Monday Blue Monday in January?

Accessing our inner calm

However, regardless of all of the above, it is comforting to know that internally we can access a constant, calm space within us that is always there. It is unmoved by the changing of the seasons. It may be very difficult to access at times. Particularly with all the external factors that can affect how we feel (weather, work, relationships, whatever else is going on in our lives). However, this calm, constant space is still there, despite all this.

CkF7gyvWYAAZmYC

But how do we access this calmness? Well the first part of this is knowing it is there. Knowing that it can be accessed with practice. A breathing practice, bringing attention to the inhale and the exhale. Simply observing the breath, without judgement. This can help us begin to access this calmness within. The breath is always with us. But how often do we pay attention to our own breath? Thoughts and feelings will of course arise whilst we observe the breath, wanting our attention. Instead of giving attention to these thoughts/feelings, gently guide your attention back to observing the breath. There are innumerable breathing techniques (pranayama) to help us in finding this sense of calmness within. So regardless of whatever else is going on, with practice we can help manage our stress levels using our own breath, the constant calm space that is within all of us.

18519734_1891592797763791_8527438660808350973_n
A mindfulness of breath based meditation can help us tune into our inner calm and help us to deal with Blue Monday. Lhasa Apsos will sometimes join in too.

Mindful Movement

Yoga posture (asana) practice is also great at helping us access that calm space within. Bringing our attention to how the body is feeling in a particular posture. The sensations you are noticing in the body and where are you noticing them? Also, breath-led movement, moving the body on an inhale and an exhale, creates a mindful practice whereby we are again bringing our attention, without judgement, to the sensations in the body. How often do we mindfully observe our bodies in our every day life?

21199764_1942639795992424_3044805334229956869_o.jpg
Mindful movement in our Yoga poses – banish the blues from Blue Monday

Self Compassion

And of course there are so many other actions that we can take to help us find this calmness within, a big part of which is to learn to treat ourselves with more compassion (ahimsa). We often find it easier to treat others with compassion than we do ourselves, especially when we’re perhaps not feeling our best. Treat yourself! Find and do the things that you enjoy, those things that make you feel good. Yes, the weather might be less than ideal at this time of year for many of us, but use this as reason to enjoy a cosy night in, a nice relaxing, hot bath, etc. Give some thought to what you can do to help you find that inner calm.

080da94ccc9300bf03cabc9e06fab465--winter-love-cozy-winter.jpg
A hot drink in front of a warm fire – an antidote to Blue Monday

So yes, it may be hard to find that inner sense of calm particularly at this time of year, and it may be easier said than done (I know I’ve felt like that many times!). But there are many ways in which we can all try to help ourselves find that constant inner calm, regardless of all external factors, and before we realise it maybe that third Monday in January, and then the rest of the winter, might not feel so ‘blue’ after all!

You may also want to check out our previous blog on Helpful ways to deal with stress which you can find here; https://yogasmiths.org/2018/05/19/mental-health-awareness-week-helpful-tips-to-deal-with-stress/

Namaste x

Guest Blog – Matt Lunt and his 8 Week Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction Course in Hoylake

Matt Lunt is a regular at our yoga classes and he is going to be running a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) at the Hoylake Parade Community Centre in September. I have personally attended an 8 week MBSR course and found it an excellent introduction to Mindfulness based meditation and stress reduction techniques. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in expanding their knowledge and experience in this area. Matt is offering this at a special reduced rate as it is part of his degree in Mindfulness.

Matt has provided us with the following description of the course and some information about himself;

Eight-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction Course

25TH September to 13th November 2018 – Tuesday evenings from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

About the course:

This eight-week course takes place every Tuesday evening from 25th September. As well as the two-hour Tuesday evening sessions, a commitment to devote approximately 30-45 minutes for home practice six days a week is required.

Included in the course price:

Participation in eight two-hour group sessions

A workbook with guidelines for supporting home practice

Guided mindfulness audio recordings

Who is it for:

The course is open to anyone who is interested in learning how to use mindfulness to better cope with the pressures of daily life. Some of the ways the course may help participants to do this include:

  • Recognising when we are operating on autopilot
  • Bringing a new approach of curiosity and kindness to dealing with unpleasant experiences
  • A better understanding of our own mental habits and how these can cause us additional suffering
  • Recognising our stressors and how we can better respond to these
  • A greater awareness of the present moment

About me:

I started my regular mindfulness practice about four years ago to cope with the stresses of life and work. A few years previously, I had experienced a huge panic attack on the way to work one morning. Although I was physically healthy, I soon realised that I was neglecting to look after my mind. I started experimenting with mindfulness practices, eventually signing up for an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. This course proved to be so helpful in helping me to relate differently to experience, so that I learned to see stressful events more clearly and recognise my own mental habits of reacting to them.

I am currently studying for a Masters in Mindfulness-based Approaches at the University of Bangor’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice. Leading this course will form part of my teacher training, therefore it is offered at an introductory rate of just £50.

For further information or to book a place, please contact Matt on 07896855550 or email at mlunt81@gmail.com

Thanks Matt and good luck with the course. There is a link to the flyer for the course below.

Paul & Steve

8 week MBSR flyer

Yoga Pop-up session – Cubbins Green, West Kirby 10:30 on Sunday 27th May 2018

Hi Everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we are holding another Pop-up yoga session on Sunday 27th May at 10:30am at Cubbins Green , Macdona Drive, West Kirby.

Following on from the success of our Pop-up sessions last year, all the lovely feedback and requests to do more, we are really looking forward to this years run of Pop-up yoga.

The weather forecast looks great and the tide will be in so it’ll be lovely practicing facing the sea and looking out across the estuary from the cliffs.

We will meet at the end of Macdona Drive at the gate which leads on to the cliffs at 10:30am.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, some water, suncream and a blanket / jumper for relaxation in case there is a cool breeze. Some yoga mats will be available on the day if you need to borrow one.

We will be teaching a traditional Hatha Yoga class with a breathing exercise, postures and a nice guided relaxation to finish. The cost for the class is £5 for adults and £3 for children. If brining children please download, complete and bring with you, a consent form from our website under Student Resources. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

32332076_10151068367004980_4409773751802003456_n

There are lots of lovely cafe’s and pubs nearby in West Kirby to grab lunch / refreshments after the session.

Here is a picture and a map of where we will be meeting;

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

Pop-up Yoga Facebook event link

Any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch either via our Facebook page at;

Yogasmiths Facebook page

or email us at enquiries@yogasmiths.org

We look forward to seeing you there!

Paul & Steve x

Mental Health Awareness Week – Mindfulness taster session for UK Bike and Go / Merseyrail – West Kirby

Thank you to all the lovely cyclists that came to our morning Mindfulness taster session. This was held on the cliffs at Cubbins Green in West Kirby. The event was organised by Merseyrail (@Merseyrail) and the UK Bike and Go (@UKBikeandgo) scheme where you can hire bicycles from train stations across the UK.

You can find further details and information on UK Bike and Go here;

https://www.bikeandgo.co.uk

We were pleased to take part in this event to highlight Mental Health Awareness week which runs from 14th -20th May 2018.  The focus this year is on stress and how we cope with it.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Exercise such as cycling (and yoga!) and a mindful purposeful relaxation meditation practice are great tools in tackling stress and its effects.

Mindfulness of breathing and yoga breathing exercises can help reduce the stress response in the body and help us to find a calmer experience of the present moment.

Research has shown that two thirds of people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and that stress is a key factor. Finding practices to help reduce stress and to   deal with stressful situations is a helpful way of trying to find a calmer more peaceful experience.

Cubbins Green provided the perfect setting for the guided Mindfulness relaxation session with lots of beautiful birdsong and sunshine!

32332076_10151068367004980_4409773751802003456_n

British Wheel of Yoga Congress 2017 – Day 2 & 3

Day 2 started with a 7am Ashtanga Mysore Practice session with Scott Johnson and Andy Gill. Scott and Andy split the room in half and one side did their own practice and the other side were lead through a good chunk of the Primary Series. Both teachers gave fantastic adjustments and instruction and I came away with many tips to help me in my home practice. I wish Scot and Andy taught nearer to the Wirral! I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for workshops and weekends with them. If you live in or near London I’d recommend practicing with Scott and Andy, here is the website for the studio; Still Point Yoga London

Next up, after breakfast, was a session introducing the Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course given by Alison Trewhala. We covered and experienced postures to ease lower back pain and also anatomy and common back ailments. We picked up some great tips to be able to help our own students with lower back pain. Check out the website here; Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs

Jay Lakhani was a guest speaker and delivered a thought proving talk entitled “How Yoga can be redefined as harnessing nature external and harnessing nature internal to reveal the divinity within.”

After lunch Paul Harvey led a tribute to TKV Desikachar and the British Wheel of Yoga AGM followed. The NEC presented a video of all of their hard work over the last 12 months. They have been doing outstanding work and I felt very proud to be a member.

After a wander round the market place to visit all of the stalls, we had a session with George Watts on lesson planning. The session was fun and gave us lots of new ideas for lesson planning for our students. George is a great inspirational teacher and has a wonderful website with lots of free resources on it; George Watts. We attended a second session with George on Yoga Business Planning which was just as eye opening. The sessions with George were a real highlight of the weekend for us, learning lots and coming away with a to do list! Plus George was a thoroughly nice guy who is vegan and into permaculture!

The evening brought “British Wheels Got Talent” in the main auditorium. This included a demonstration of Acro Yoga, see the pic above!!

Day 3 started with a 7am gentle Yin Yoga session led by Karen Jones a teacher form North Wales, not too far from us! It was nice to connect with and meet a relatively local teacher. The perfect start to the day and a nice gentle way to wake up to the day ahead.

After breakfast was another session with Michael Chiswick, this time focussing on teaching Autistic children and those with complex learning needs. A practical demonstration is worth a million words and we practiced a typical session which was very beneficial. Q and A followed and Michael imparted some of his wealth of knowledge on this area. He has been teaching children for many years and is clearly an expert in this area.

The last session of the weekend was an Ashtanga Workshop with Scott Johnson and Andy Gill. The time flew by as we explored extension and contraction in the body relating this to the sun salutations. Also a great experimentation with sifting weight into the hands from down dog, as Scott said treating your “Hands as Feet.” Lots learned and lots to absorb.

A final lunch and closing session draw to an end a wonderful intensive weekend. We made lots of new friends. The theme was Transformation and the week certainly was transforming. We are already looking forward to next year!

British Wheel of Yoga Congress 2017-Day1

Hey Everyone, we are attending the British Wheel of Yoga Congress at Warwick University. The campus looked beautiful as we arrived in sunny weather, all of the daffodils still in full bloom.

We attended a fantastic session delivered by Michael Chissick on “How to Use Yoga to Transform Children’s Social Skills and Self Esteem.”

Michael led us through a fun session where we pretended that we were school children participating in a yoga class. Michael has a wealth of experience in this area and has been teaching yoga to children for many years. We learned the importance of interaction  to build self esteem and also class control. Applying the sun salutation in a fun way and incorporating posture based games was inspiring. We will certainly be checking out David’s book and stall in the market arena over the weekend. The session showed us how with imagination and a sense of fun our knowledge and experience as Yoga Teachers can easily be adapted to teach fun and rewarding sessions to children.

Here is a link to Michael’s website Yoga At School

After a welcoming address officially opening the Congress weekend, there was a very inspiring talk from Fazilah Bazari, a yoga teacher from Papua New Guinea. Fazilah has taken yoga to extremely deprived and dangerous areas to help aid real change in peoples lives.

You can read more about the work that Fazilah has been doing here Yoga Unites

The second session we attend was with David Tierney and was on “Core Stability and it’s Role in Yoga.” We looked at all the different muscles that make up the core and targeted them with specific exercises. Then we brought mindfulness to our practice of yoga postures with acute detail to the core and its support in the postures.

Off to bed early this evening as we have a class at 7am tomorrow!

Namaste

Paul & Steve

Tips for your first yoga class

This may be your first yoga class or you may be returning to yoga? That’s great news and we’re excited to have you join our friendly class! We love yoga and the benefits (both physical and mental) that come with practicing yoga and we are excited to share this with you.

However you may be uncertain as to what to expect from the class which is natural of course when trying anything new!

So here is some useful information for your first class that will hopefully put your mind at ease:

What do I wear?

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. A t-shirt or vest and joggers or shorts are typical clothes worn during class.
  • When doing the poses you will have to take your socks off. This is for safety reasons (socks on yoga mats can be slippy!) but it also allows us to feel more grounded during the practice by having our feet in contact with the mat.

What do I bring to class?

  • All you need to bring is yourself! If you have a yoga mat then bring that along too, but if you need a mat we will have some available.
  • For comfort you might want to bring something warm to wear and/or a blanket for the relaxation part of the practice if you want but these aren’t essential. Although the room will be comfortably warm you may find that you feel cool as you relax as the breathing and heart rate become slower. Also, you might want to bring a cushion to sit on for the breathing practice but again this isn’t essential. (Tip: a rolled up blanket is also perfect for kneeling to protect the knees)
  • Bring a bottle of water if you’d like in case you get thirsty at any point.

Can I eat before class?

  • It’s okay to have a small snack 15-20 minutes before class but it isn’t recommended to eat a large meal up to 2 hours before doing yoga (so no three course meals or Chinese banquets before class! What you do after class is entirely up to you though!)

What do I do during a yoga class?

  • Our typical class will incorporate a short period of breathing practice to settle the mind and prepare our mind, body and breath for the physical posture work.
  • We will then move onto warming and mobilisation postures before moving onto stronger postures. Everyone will be included because we explain and demonstrate how each posture can be modified to benefit any student regardless of ability, experience, shape or size. A modified version of a posture has exactly the same benefits as full expressions of the postures.
  • Often there will be a theme to the class, and/or or one or two peak postures which we work towards during the class.
  • The physical posture work will be followed by a guided relaxation. There are many different relaxation techniques that can be used. Guided relaxation is an excellent method of helping us manage stress and calm the body and mind.

If you have any more questions about what to expect from your first class please let us know! Further information is provided in the student resources section of our website under ‘Info for new clients’.

We look forward to welcoming you all to class!

 

 

Yoga Classes in Hoylake & West Kirby

Welcome to Yogasmiths Yoga classes!

We are pleased to announce our two new weekly yoga classes starting 19th April and 20th April 2017. We will be holding them;

Wednesdays – 18:45-20:15 at Hoylake Parade Community Centre in the Rehersal Room (1st Floor)

Thursdays – 19:00 – 20:30 at West Kirby Arts Centre, Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby

Come and join our weekly Traditional Hatha Yoga class which will include posture work, breathing exercises and finish with a lovely guided relaxation.

We are British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance trained teachers, fully insured through the British Wheel of Yoga.
You get two friendly teachers for the price of one which ensures safe practice and plenty of attention and modifications are offered to ensure the classes are inclusive for all abilities.

Cost: £6 (£5.50 if you check in to Yogasmiths on Facebook)

Loyalty cards available attend 9 classes and get the 10th class free.

If you would like to book a place in advance or reserve a mat then please send us a message on facebook or an email to enquiries@yogasmiths.org

Please see our website http://www.yogasmiths.org for information and advice about attending a yoga class for the first time. There are also biog’s for both teachers on the website.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one but we also have up to 12 yoga mats available on a first come first serve basis and a small selection for sale.

We look forward to guiding you thorugh your yoga practice.

Paul & Steve Yogasmiths

Feedback from a business owning Yoga client -relaxation benefits

We’ve had some lovely feedback from one of our male clients, Steven. We have been providing him and his wife with couples yoga sessions. He has found the relaxation aspect of Yoga very beneficial as he has his own business and Yoga has helped him switch off. Steven had the following to say;

“I have had two yoga sessions now with yogasmiths and have really enjoyed them. It’s great having two people teaching you at the same time, everything is explained in an easy to understand way and they really take their time with you in a professional but relaxed way.
I have honestly enjoyed it more than I thought and it’s a lot more physical than I expected however it’s great for all ages and fitness levels.
The relaxation at the end of each session really helps after a stressful day at work so I would definitely recommend yogasmiths to anyone thinking about starting yoga.”
Steven, Lower Heswall

Thanks Steven! Yogasmiths offer Couples Yoga Sessions where we can both teach providing a safe attentive learning environment. One teach will instruct and demonstrate and the other will check alignment and offer adjustments and modifications as appropriate. Please get in touch for further details.