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




World Mental Health Day 10th October 2017

It is World Mental Health day today, Tuesday 10th October 2017. Most people suffer at some point during their life with a mental health problem.

This can range from a period of work related stress and anxiety to a more complex mental health condition. Sometimes these challenges can come right out of the blue and hit us.

Yoga is an excellent way of helping to build our resilience to mental health challenges and is also a wonderful recuperative practice.

Both Steve and I have used yoga to help us at various times in our lives. We first ventured to a yoga class when Steve was living with depression and we thought we would see if it would help. Steve found that the yoga really helped him and was a step towards recovery. I also found that the yoga helped me in many ways and I hadn’t realised that I needed it! That was the start of our regular yoga practice that has lead us to becoming yoga teachers!

I have also used yoga and breathing techniques to deal with periods of work related anxiety when I was working in middle management. Yoga techniques can provide you with the space that is all so important when the mind feels so busy and full.

There is an excellent article written by Dr Mercola titled Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health.

The following is an extract from it and there is a link to the full article below;

Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain

Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:

Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.

Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11

“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …

The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.

Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.

When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”

By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.

Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12


Here is a link to the full article;

Yoga and the Brain – Dr Mercola article

We always ensure in our Traditional Hatha Yoga classes that we teach our students a range of different breathing exercises and different guided relaxation so that everyone can find one to suit themselves that they can use in their day to day lives.




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.


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.


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 


Paul & Steve



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!


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


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.


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!


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