One of our lovely class members is Professor Lisa Shaw of the University of Liverpool. She is involved in putting on the Cinema, Memory and Wellbeing Festival 2019 at The Plaza Cinema in Liverpool on Thursday 17th October from 1pm – 4:30pm.
The festival is a culmination of 5 years of research led by Professor Lisa Shaw in tandem with Professor Julia Hallam, into the power of film to trigger memories and assist in enhancing emotional wellbeing through shared experiences and group reminiscence.
The festival will be an afternoon of celebrations centred on the Brazilian film star Carmen Miranda. The event is aimed at older people, especially those living with a dementia diagnosis, and those involved in their care. Participants will be invited to view the art work produced in the two creative workshops and to have their photographs taken with ‘aunt sallies’ of Carmen Miranda or Charlie Chaplin, to the sound of the music from the 1940’s and 50’s, including Latin American rhythms. This will be followed by a screening of the Hollywood musical That Night in Rio (1941) which starred Carmen Miranda in her first English-speaking part.
Tickets for this event are available from the Plaza Cinema priced at Â£4 each and free for carers.
The Plaza Community Cinema is at 13 Crosby Road North, Liverpool, L22 0LD and can be contacted on 0151 474 4076.
â€˜Body imageâ€™ is a term that can be used to describe how we think and feel about our bodies. Our thoughts and feelings about our bodies can impact us throughout our lives, affecting, more generally, the way we feel about ourselves and our mental health and wellbeing.
Body image concern itself is a relatively common thing to experience and is not in itself a mental health issue. However, it can be a contributing factor to mental health problems.
Whereas body satisfaction has been linked to better overall wellbeing and eating habits.
We live in a society that has become more and more fixated with the outwards image of the body. Social Media is awash with picture of people with what some people would view as the “perfect” body and lifestyle. Social Media has made so many people use their social media accounts as if they are celebrities and in doing so sharing edited highlights of their lives in an attempt to show the world that their life is perfect. Social Media is completely fixated with the external, both image wise and also in engaging with the external world, trying to obtain followers and get “likes”.
How does Yoga help us navigate our way through all of this?
As we have said many times in our yoga classes, Yoga is a work in not a work out. Yoga is about internalising our awareness via breath work, posture practice and relaxation / meditation. In doing so we realise that our true self is not our physical body, our true self is not the chatter of our minds. Our true self is deeper again and is the quiet place beyond the chatter of our mind, a place where we can find contentment, acceptance and calmness.
The Pancha Maya Kosha model detailed in the Upanishads sets out a model of the true self being encased in 5 wrappings that prevent us seeing through to the self. The outer most layer is the physical body and people can be stuck here and fixated with their physical ability and / or appearance. This philosophical model tells us that whilst we are stuck in the physical we will not progress to reveal the true self and the peace / calmness that comes with it. We are much more than our reflection in a mirror, an obsession with the reflection prevents us from seeing through the mirror to the deeper layers of ourselves.
Some factors that impact how you relate to your own body image are your family, peer group, pressure to look a certain way and social media. From a personal perspective, as someone who has worn glasses from an early age, I was quite self conscious of my glasses which is only natural. However, people said to me on a number of occasions, when I was in my teens, if I took my glasses off, “Oh you are handsome without your glasses on.” The inference that I made here is that I was obviously not handsome with my glasses on! This is something that certainly affected my confidence somewhat. However, with positive role models wearing glasses in music and the media as I grew older I embraced my glasses and enjoyed wearing them!
Another personal experience growing up was that I loved sixties music and mod culture. I bought (and still own!) vintage scooters, a parka and desert boots. Once I had decided I was a mod then there was self inflicted pressure to conform to a certain style and look. However, I’ve always been a little on the scruffy side so it probably wasn’t the ideal thing to get into! When attending scooter rallies and mod nights I felt like I didn’t fit in because I was not quite so fastidious with how I looked. It is interesting to reflect how we strive to fit in when we are younger, trying to find the hobbies or groups that we can relate to and identify with. Body image is intrinsic to this idea of fitting in and how we portray ourselves to the outside world.
The health and fitness industry is probably one of the biggest purveyors of images of the “ideal” body, second only to the fashion industry. Magazines and social media are full of pictures of men and women with bodies that require an unhealthy addiction to the gym and the taking of ridiculous amounts of supplements. Pictures of people with six packs abs and veiny muscles don’t explain that the models are mostly in dehydrated states in order to look “optimal” for the photo shoots. The yoga world is the same, often using pictures of people with extreme hyper-flexibility or natural gymnasts as their pin-ups. This puts many people off yoga – how often we hear “I can’t do yoga I’m not flexible enough”! It also encourages some yoga practitioners to push themselves too far and to try to achieve ranges of motion that are far outside that which is normal and some would argue, healthy.
My own personal experience through Yoga has been to find a much happier relationship with my own personal body image. Yoga allows us to turn our attention inwards and to let go of our self-critic which drives negative body image. When we practice mindfully we obtain greater body awareness, listening to our own bodies, accepting all of our limitations and abilities in the same way. We can come to realise that the life force / essence of the self that it within you is the same as that which is within others. We learn that we are ok just as we are. With this acceptance we often find that we then make healthier decisions for ourselves and appreciate our bodies more, gaining a healthy relationship with your own body image.
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;
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 Â 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!
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.
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;
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;
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!
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;
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!
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!
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;
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 Â 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;
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!