Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Summertime Yoga

We love our outdoor practice all year!  Practicing outdoors means you need to cultivate a flexible mind and attitude.  We move according to the elements.

On Sundays in summer we move to the grass in front of the High Court.  We have lots of trees for shade but if you want to stand in a sun spot you can as well.

Grass and yoga mats are not always great together.  Sometimes a towel or, if you are like me, just bare feet, are better.

There can be bindis and duck poo and all sorts of things on the grass.  It is nature after all.

And while we try to consistently go to the same place, sometimes people have decided to have a picnic where we normally practice yoga.  So we just find another place.

It is good to keep my phone number handy in case you need to call.

On Thursdays in summer we still hang out by the lake in front of the Water's Edge Restaurant area.  It can still be a bit windy and, as I always say, it is better to bring extra clothes that you can take off rather than come under-dressed!

See you soon.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Some Karma Yoga

Those of you who know me personally know I teach yoga in my spare time.

But I try to practice all of the time.

My day job is as an occupational therapist.  I work with kids with autism spectrum disorder.

Lots of children I work with find it hard to play, and especially to play with others.

Helping some of them share space and time and finding ways to support play skills is a big part of my day.

This morning I made this box toy.  It was a joyful process.  I did it mindfully and intentionally.

When I gift it to the kids today it will bring joy to me to see them play and explore.  This, too, is the practice of yoga.

What joy can you find in your day?  What can you gift to others?

Much metta,

Thursday, 3 August 2017

No Class Thursday 3 August Due to Rain

You could try this indoors instead!  A video my friends in Sri Lanka made a few years ago.  Copy the link to connect.

much metta,

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Mountain Crow

I have made many videos about bakasana, or crow pose.

Here in the mountains in Sri Lanka I have videoed another way of coming into bakasana that I find helps many people.

Remember, you do not need to actually come into the balance--do not rush to get there.

The balance should come fairly naturally, as a consequence of all of the actions that you have been layering.  If you rush you will probably fall.  If you feel scared, perhaps you are not ready.

A few key actions I am doing:

  • raising heels and firming behind my knees to come into a squat (then keeping those actions);
  • in the squat I start by moving my body through my knees, pressing arms out into knees and squeezing knees into arms and just hanging out in this type of forward bend.  At the same time pushing my hips (bottom) through my legs, which should bring some firmness to your tummy;
  • then taking my arms over the top of my knees--trying to get as far up my upper arms onto the top of my knees as possible.  Then pressing my arms down into my knees and pressing my knees up into my arms.  At the same time trying to push my hips (bottom) through my legs and forward.  You should feel firmness in the tummy and around the armpits;
  • lift heels higher, lean forward to a point where my hands rest comfortably on the ground and I can try to lean forward.  Coming high onto my tiptoes.  I do not try to come into bakasana from flat feet or even on balls of feet.  I am really trying to get to my tip toes.  That forces my tummy to work.;
  • I look forward and lean forward. My fingertips are gipping.  If I lean forward enough my feet just float off the ground because I have reached a state of natural balance.
This is best to practice with a teacher.   We might revisit this method in class soon!

Happy and safe practicing. 

Panoramic Hips and Spine

Up here in the mountains I am taking in 360 degree views.  So I am taking my yoga circular.

Since I don't use a mat I am not confined to a spot or a direction.  It's lovely.

So here is a little sequence that takes you around in a circle, moving spine and hips in different directions as well.

Happy and safe practicing

Friday, 14 July 2017

Balancing Flow Haputale

I have been experimenting in the clouds.

Here I have developed a slight twist on my traditional standing balance opening sequence.

What I did was play with the idea of how to come into trikonasana.

So what you see is that I go from vrksasana (tree pose).  I keep my pelvis square, focus on external rotation at the hip (of raised leg), then extend that leg straight while maintaining that external rotation.

When you extend it straight and then go to put the leg down you end up with the foot diagonally in front of you rather than out to the side.  That is ok.

What is does is keep your pelvis in a nice position, your lower back in a nice position, and maintain the external rotation of the reaching leg.  I do a little weight shifting to get the other leg in position (and that is why the ardha chandrasana is there).

Overall, my trikonasana feels so wonderful coming in like this.

We will work on this more when classes resume next Sunday in Canberra.

Mountain Mandala Flow

I am up at about 5000 ft in the mountains of Haputale, Sri Lanka.  It's pretty spectacular.

Here I created a mountain mandala flow.

We often do this in class but facing the one direction.

But here there are beautiful views from every direction here and so I wanted to move and take them all in.

So here I repeat the same movement pattern but just turning 90 degrees each time.

It also gives you a 360 degree view of the movements so you get a better perspective.

Ok, I realise there are wardrobe malfunctions here but those who know me know my yoga wardrobe is the least of my concerns.  Hopefully no one will be offended.

I particularly wanted to create this for Karen and Dave, my mountain friends in Nepal.  Hope this helps with your practice.

Happy and safe practicing.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Interesting Hips: Standing Flow

It does not rain it pours!  Two videos in about ten minutes.

This is also from our current sequence and is part of the standing practice.  I have also sped it up.  I quite like the flow of the movement at this speed but when you practice try at least a quarter speed.  The real-time practice took about 8 minutes.

I could have equally called this practice interesting spine because it is really about spinal movement.  But I also want to cue you into turning the hips and then the feet when you move from the central posture to the asymmetric ones.

Enjoy!  Happy and safe practicing.

Interesting Hips: Mandala Namaskar

A very long time between postings!  Yikes.  This one I promised to my students several weeks ago and is from our current practice.

I generally don't recommend practicing something without a teacher and especially not this one if you are not familiar with the hip rotation.

But for those of you who are, here it is! At last.

Remember, keep the ankles off the floor.  Turn the hips and let the feet follow.  Move slowly--there is no rush.  If you are 'looking' for anything it is joy and not an end posture.

I practiced outside on this lovely patch of grass in the winter chill where I had fresh air, a kiss of sun on my skin, and the pleasure of a the earth beneath my feet.  Why not find your own patch of grass?

I have sped up the clip so if you were to practice this it should take at least twice as long.

Happy and safe practicing!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

No Classes 23 June-18 July 2017

Hi!  I am away in Nepal/Sri Lanka from 23 June-18 July 2017 so no classes then.  I will be back 19 July 2017 and classes will resume then.  Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Happy and safe practicing!

Much metta,

Sunday, 12 March 2017

April Yoga Workshops

Looking forward to travelling to Colombo, Sri Lanka for a holiday and to run these yoga workshops in April.  We will be outdoors but under cover at Sooriya Village.

We will get a chance to explore movement and poses and work towards improving your practice or maybe starting one.  I particularly want you to learn about spinal movement, about active movement, and pain-free movement.

Please contact either myself or Tilak for more details.

If you know you want to book just contact Tilak but if you have any questions about what we will do, whether it is suitable for you, any concerns about injuries etc that you might have then feel free to contact me.  Oh, Tilak is the guy in the photo in the batman t-shirt raising his leg quite impressively in a standing balance!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Savouring Sidebends

I love sidebends.  While out and about today I found some nice spots to practice a few.

These sidebends are spinal sidebends.  My spine curves to the side.

Key to this type of side bending is that I make an effort to lengthen one side without squashing the other side.  You can sort of just droop yourself and look like you are side bending but that just makes you feel squishy and sometimes squashy.

When I teach side bending I often say imagine the arc of water coming from a firefighter's hose as it tries to go up to a high window on a tall building.  It does not mean you have to be upright but rather you get an internal feeling that you are reaching up and over rather than just leaning out to the side.  As always, lift rather than sink.

The video below shows some standing sidebends, including some balancing variations.

These sidebends should feel active.  There are a few key elements to each of them that I will mention here.

  • In general I am pushing my front of groins forwards.
  • In particular I am pushing the front groin forward and up on the side that I sidebend to
  • I press the same side armpit down to that same front groin
  • On the lengthening side I am reaching up and over
  • On the lengthening side I am pushing my armpit forward and up and over as though I am bringing my armpit towards my face/nose
  • Once I have my sidebend I turn my navel, ribs, and chest towards the lengthening side
  • Then I do a little backbend through my whole spine  

If you do not know what these things mean or feel like it is best to come to class.

In the first standing variation I start with a sidebend and balance on tip toe.  Then I deepen it by transferring the weight to that ball of foot (rather than being on tip toe).

In this posture I keep leaning more weight onto the ball of foot.

I am not leaning or sinking down into the leg with the lower arm.  Rather, I am actively pushing that armpit down.The arm remains straight and I do not dump the weight into it.  While it is on the knee I am using it to press and help me lift more.

In this posture I am side bending, then I do a twist, then I do a little backbend.  You can find your own comfortable position for your neck.

Do keep pressing front of groins forward in this posture so you do not end up with your butt hanging behind you.

In the second variation I take this to a more challenging balance with the leg raised.

I hug that knee to the chest and then go for a sidebend there.

In the third variation I straighten the bent knee and take my top hand over to the foot if possible.

I make sure to maintain sidebend, twist, and then a little backbend.

This third variation is obviously quite tricky.

Catching the foot means you need to be long in the legs and long in the side body and be able to maintain a turn.

Sometimes people try to grab the foot without regard to the rest of the posture and so they lose the twist and some of the sidebend.

This is because when you lean your body forward and turn your torso towards the ground it makes it 'easier' to get the foot.  Alas, you will have left half of the posture behind!

So, bear in mind the point of this position is to sidebend and turn. It is not to get the foot.  Do not sacrifice the posture for the foot.

In the video you can sort of see that my foot and hand come to meet one another without me losing the positions I had established beforehand.

The first two of these balance variations somewhat resemble parsvakonasana.  They are, indeed, a sort of balance version of that posture.

Parsvakonasana is a pose where you can sidebend, then twist, then do a little backbend.  It feels delicious.

Whether or not you reach the ground is irrelevant.  Most people will not be able to do that and it is ok.  If you make sure you maintain the key actions you should find that you are doing a lot of work in this posture without ever needing to reach for the ground.

I found this lovely arch to do parsvakonasana beneath.  It inspired me because the arch shape reminded me of the arch of my sidebend.

I found out that this gate was a gift to Canberra by the Hungarian government made by a Hungarian artist.  It is quite beautiful.

Happy and safe practicing.  Look forward to seeing you outdoors soon!

Much metta,