World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

The following link will take you to a blog on this years theme;

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/world-mental-health-day-suicide-prevention

The Mental Health Foundation have put together a suicide prevention advice poster;

We all have mental health and our mental health can vary from day to day. It can vary as we move through different stages of our lives and deal with different life events.

Mental Health can often be referred to as emotional health or wellbeing.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Yet people talk much more about their physical health and often shy away from addressing the subject of their mental health. In general people do not like talking about their feelings but it is healthy to be able to know how we are feeling and to talk about how we feel and to communicate this.

Mental Health problems are common, you are not alone. The following statistics are from the Mental Health Foundations website;

As found by the APMS (2014), 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem.
Anxiety and depression are the most common problems, with around 1 in 10 people affected at any one time.

Take some time to visit the Mental Health Foundation website where there is a wealth of resources https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

Talk to your friends and loved ones if you are struggling, speak to people and seek help.

Yoga can help us with greater self awareness so that we can become more aware of our triggers. We can become aware of the early signs of stress or anxiety and then we have an opportunity to try and deal with this at an early stage. This may be through breathing practices or relaxation or just taking some time for yourself. Ahimsa – Compassion – directed towards ourselves is a very important part of yoga. Practicing ahimsa is to take care of yourself – both your mental and physical wellbeing.

We all have to learn to live with our minds and we are all dealing with this on a daily basis. Some days it goes well and some days less well. It is something we all experience, when you feel low you are not alone, reach out and talk.

The British Wheel of Yoga Diploma journey

This weekend marked the last day of our British Wheel of Yoga diploma course up in Troon in Scotland with Carol Price. This also marked 3 years since we first met our wonderful tutor Carol Price and began training with her.

A serious end of course picture
Slightly less serious exuberance

Our first teacher training course which we started in February 2016 with Yoga Alliance as the awarding body left us feeling unprepared to teach yoga. I am sure that there are some very good courses out there with Yoga Alliance as the awarding body, in fact I have been on some myself, my first Yoga teacher training course certainly wasn’t one of them.

Feeling quite despondent, we were recommended to look at the British Wheel of Yoga. We found a certificate course running in Salford with Paul Fox (then BWY chair) and Carol Price. I had a chat with Paul and we decided that we would embark on another teacher training course that would actually teach us to teach yoga! The British Wheel of Yoga Level 4 Certificate course has BWY Qualifications as its awarding body which is regulated by OFQUAL. This was more like it! A qualification that we could be proud of. There was a lot of hard work, learning and academic essays to complete. We were also assessed teaching a real 90 minute class with real students. The final day of the course was very emotional and we felt very proud of our certificate. This was a world apart from our previous experience!

We then became aware that Carol Price had a diploma course which was part way through that we could tag on to and upgrade our qualification to the highest level of OFQUAL regulated Yoga Teacher Training available, the BWY Level 4 Diploma. We gave this serious consideration as the course was running in Troon in Scotland and obviously entailed a further significant financial and time investment. We both wanted to continue our learning with Carol and felt it was absolutely the right thing to do.

The diploma top up has been a fantastic experience covering 3 modules on Hatha Yoga & Pranayama, the teaching and philosophy of meditation and progression in yoga.

On the course we dived deep into the ancient texts and looked at how we could make them relevant for our classes and create rich layered lessons. The formal essay writing was the part that I found particularly enjoyable. It really encouraged me to read around the topics and to draw together references and importantly allowed me to work out my own opinions. There was also a further assessment of us teaching one of our real weekly 90 minute classes, and those who come to our classes may remember Carol sitting in the corner! Despite having been teaching for 3 years at the point of being assessed it was still a very nerve wrecking experience. I felt supported and buoyed by the lovely yoga students who attend our class.

Let me just say a few words about Carol Price our Diploma Course Tutor. Carol has been a wonderful guide to us on our diploma course, she never fails to come up with either a wonderful pearl of wisdom, a lovely new mobilisation exercise or an intelligent imaginative sequence. Carol always provided constructive and helpful feedback, one of her catch phrases being “what could make you even better would be….”. Carol has been an extremely important teacher to us and we can’t thank her enough, we will always affectionately refer to her as our Yoga Mama!

Yoga Mama Carol Price with her two boys!

Here is a link to Carol’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Celtic-Yoga-264932390858722/

As an already qualified yoga teacher (at least twice over) when embarking on the Diploma top up I was keen to get as much out of it as possible. When deciding to do further training / CPD I want to gain extra knowledge that is going to make me a better teacher. This is certainly what we got in bucket loads from the diploma course with Carol. It has also been a greatly enriching personal journey studying in depth the ancient yogic texts and pulling together formal assignments.

We are both very proud to be British Wheel of Yoga teachers. With an OFQUAL regulated awarding body, you know that you are going to get excellent quality training and rigorous assessment. It may feel like a lot of hard work as you progress through the BWY training but this is exactly why it is worth it. You come out the other end of the training prepared and ready to teach yoga to all ability classes. The staged approach to teaching that the BWY train you in is all inclusive, we have in our classes students who are retired yoga teachers and others who are completely new to yoga, both being able to practice side by side.

There are so many different yoga teacher training courses out there, I even saw one that was a correspondence course! Choose wisely. How long does it really take to learn a profession such as teaching yoga? In an unregulated arena go for regulated courses, do your homework, speak to previous trainees. Spend your money and time wisely and you won’t regret it.

Yoga Workshops – Sunday 13th October

Join us for our October Yoga workshop day at Westbourne Hall on Sunday 13th October at Westbourne Road, West Kirby, CH48 4DQ

We will have a full day of Yoga from 11:00 till 17:00.

In the morning (11:00 till 13:30) we will have an inversions workshop looking at;
* Foundations & strength building for inversions, e.g. headstand & handstand
* Safe practice tips for shoulder stand and plough poses
* Gaining confidence in your practice using a staged approach
* The chance to go upside down with teacher assistance! (optional!)

In the afternoon (14:30 till 17:00) we will have a partner yoga workshop where we will look at;
* Tips and tools for improving balance
* Practicing balancing poses alone and with a partner
* Working with a partner to develop your balance
* Have some fun!
You do not need to bring a partner to come to this workshop!

Cost : £37 for both workshops or £20 per workshop

(non refundable unless space can be filled) – Please book early as places are limited, you can pay at one of our weekly classes or by BACS. Please email us at enquires@yogasmiths.org or send us a Facebook message to book your place.

Please bring with you a packed lunch and a blanket. We have use of the kitchen at Westbourne Hall for teas and coffees and to heat any food you bring. There will be a long table for us to sit at and eat our lunch together.

You may wish to bring your own yoga mat and props, however, we will have plenty for people to use.

There are a good number of places in West Kirby where you could purchase lunch should you not wish to bring a packed lunch.

Westbourne Hall has a free car park with plenty of parking spaces.

We are British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance trained teachers, fully insured through the British Wheel of Yoga.

You get two friendly teachers which ensures safe practice and plenty of attention and modifications are offered so that the classes are inclusive for all abilities.

Please check out the event on our Facebook page;
https://www.facebook.com/events/376596526351229/

We look forward to guiding you through your yoga practice.

Paul & Steve Yogasmiths

Pop-Up Yoga – Beach & Park in a cardboard Castle!

Hi Everyone

Just a quick note to let you know that we have a couple of pop-up yoga sessions coming up.

Beach Pop-up Yoga

The first one is on Sunday 5th August at 10:00am at Red Rocks, Stanley Road, Hoylake.

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The weather forecast looks great and we have checked the tide times!!

We will meet at the end of Stanley Road, Hoylake at the gate which leads on to the beach for a 10:00am start.

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 accompanied by an adult.

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

https://www.facebook.com/events/955385201332401/

Here is a map of where we will meet;

 

Park Pop-Up Yoga in cardboard castle – Ashton Park 

Come and join us on Sunday 12th August at 10:00am for a FREE outdoor Pop-up Yoga session with a difference! We will be practicing yoga next to a large cardboard castle that will be built in Ashton Park as part of the Lost Castles event across the Merseyside Region.

French artist Olivier Grosstete has designed cardboard castles influenced by the rich architectural history of the Merseyside Region and they will be built in locations across Merseyside. We are lucky to have one being built in Ashton Park in West Kirby!

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Our yoga session will be a traditional hatha yoga class including a breathing exercise and guided relaxation. This is a FREE family friendly community yoga session brought to you by Wirral Council and Yogasmiths. Please bring a yoga mat with you, we will have a small number of mats that can be used on the day. If you wish to purchase a cheap decent quality yoga mat, Home Bargains have them for £5.

After the Yoga session there will be the opportunity to stick around and be involved in the pulling down and dismantling of the castle after which it will all be recycled.

For more information about the Lost Castles events across Merseyside please see the link below;
https://www.lostcastles.co.uk

You can get in solved in the building of the castle and find out more information here;
https://www.imaginewirral.com/get-involved%20

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

https://www.facebook.com/events/225475838110403/

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!

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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.

Yoga for Hysterectomy

Hi,

We wanted to share with you some lovely feedback from a private one to one client that we recently received and also details of a pre-operation yoga programme that we have put together to prepare the body for hysterectomy surgery.

Tia left us the following feedback;

“Hellooooo everyone, I just wanted to write a little something regarding the one to ones I’ve been having with Paul and to say how much I’ve appreciated all the help and he’s given me. I attend a weekly group session with Paul and Steve which is brilliant, but decided to have some one to ones in preparation for a hysterectomy I’m due to have, and it has been wonderful the preparation and research that Paul has done to put together a personalised plan for me has been just wonderful, I would strongly recommend anyone going through a similar thing to consider this. I feel that I will be able to aid my own recovery by being in a really good state of mind and body.
Thank you so much Paul and Steve you really have and will make such a difference.
Love Tia xxxxxx”

Thanks Tia!

Tia is a valued and regular member of our public yoga classes and she approached us for a one to one session to help her prepare for a hysterectomy operation.

We thoroughly researched this procedure and put together a session focussing on all the key areas that need to be strengthened to allow for optimal recovery post-surgery. The main areas being mental preparation, breathing exercises, the pelvic floor, core strength and the muscles around the abdominal area including the glutes and hips.

We took Tia through this plan across two private one to one sessions and provided her with a detailed session plan to allow her to practice at home. Tia will be able to build strength in her body in all the key areas to put herself in the best place from which to undergo surgery. Strengthening muscles in the area of any surgery helps the muscles heal more quickly post-operation. This hysterectomy focussed session will also help to greatly reduce any of the potential problems that can be associated with hysterectomy surgery.

If you are interested in this session or know someone who would be please share this with them and do not hesitate to contact us at enquiries@yogasmiths.org

Namaste

Paul & Steve

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Happy New Year! Mindfulness at New Year

This time of year it is natural that we feel tempted to engage with a lot of judgement with regards to the previous year and also projection in to the new year.

People talk about how “2017 was a terrible year… lets look forward to better times in 2018” or “2017 was a great year… onwards and upward in 2018”. Whilst this involves looking to the future with positivity when we come to the end of 2018 we will see the same types of comments being made. When we label a whole year as either bad or good then we are attaching an emotional response to that year.

If we step back and take a look at how this labelling and judgement of previous years makes us feel we sometimes see that maybe it is not all that great for our mental wellbeing. Any given year will be filled with highs and lows and our greatest skill is to navigate these peaks and troughs with mindfulness and a sense of ease.

In my own experience, mindfulness allows the lows of a year to not feel quite as low and likewise that the highs do not feel quite so high. This allows for an easy and smoother emotional and mental experience of life, less of a rollercoaster.

I have also felt that the practice of New Years Resolutions to be a self imposed pressure that often sets one up for failure. We can fall into the trap of making a list of resolutions which we cannot possibly keep. When we fail to keep these resolutions then we may well label that as such, as a “failure”. With mindfulness we can become more self aware and actually instigate intuitive stepped changes to our lives in a positive and healthy way at any time of the year.

If we approach the New Year as we approach any day with a sense of non-judgement and non-attachment then we can anchor our selves in the present and find peace and calm in that experience. We can embrace the sense of letting go of the old year without judgement or labelling and welcome in the new year with a sense of love and gratitude. We can welcome each new day like this, with a sense of being renewed each day.

Perhaps the best new years resolution is to be more mindful (and obviously to do more Yoga too!!)

Happy New Year to everyone

Paul & Steve

Yogasmiths

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12 Days of Christmas Yoga!

Hi Yogi’s

Here is a video of a fun Christmas themed Yoga sequence we put together for our classes over the festive period.

The video below is the finale of the song from our West Kirby yoga class on Thursday 21st December 2017.

Thank you to all our Yoga students for being such good sports and enjoying our Christmas themed class.

Thanks

Paul & Steve x