Wednesday 2 December 2009

A New Experience

On Saturday I went to a yoga workshop in Cheriton near Folkestone which is run by The Victor Foundation. We were treated to a lesson in the morning session by Sivakumar Gurukkal who had come over from India with his wife. We spent time warming up the body, then worked through a series of movements which made us focus on our breathing. The Asanas (yoga postures) were then practiced over and over and this repetition helped the mind to be totally focused. We all finished the lesson feeling wonderful.

This lesson reminded us that yoga is not just a form of exercise. It is a way to achieve an inner peace, an inner quiet. This is done through learning to be in control of our body and our breath.

In the afternoon session we learned some of the eye exercises that have to be mastered for classical Indian dance. Exercising the eyes can help prevent headaches and migraines. We also worked our hands into Mudras which are hand gestures and are not only used in dance but also in certain yoga postures and meditation to help bring an awareness to certain parts of the body and breath.

This weekend they are putting on a very special - one off - performance of Kalaripayattu and Mahoniyattam on Saturday 5 December (see attachment). £5 donation only. Stephen will also be performing with the Gurukkal.

St Andrews Hall ,Cheriton, Folkestone

Please stay after the performance as we will be holding a raffle and serving light refreshments at a small charge - the proceeds of which will go to the CVN Kalari Hospital for the purchase of a Tuk Tuk. The Gurukkal treats underprivileged patients at the hospital and a Tuk Tuk would enable them to be fetched and carried.

This is an amazing opportunity.
If you can not get there use the amazing power of the Internet and google the titles listed below to watch the classical Indian dance and hear the hypnotic music on youtube videos:
the dance of the enchantress trailer
the dance of the enchantress 4
the dance of the enchantress 6

Friday 6 November 2009

A bit of my family history

My Aunty Lena is 93 and she has just had a family gathering to celebrate having her book published 'The Chronicles of Lena Barden'. I found she had kept a newspaper cutting about my Grandad on my Mothers side, and although I knew he was in the Police and had worked in the Isle of Man I knew little more. This article just gave me more details and lovely quotes, that I can just imagine him saying. I was a little shocked to find out that he was once a heavy weight boxer, and a little proud to know he was good with a riffle. I loved my Grandad.

I have written out the news article for you.

Ex-Boxer Pc Retires


Exactly twelve years ago (in early October, 1941) fifty hand – picked metropolitan Policemen went from London to Peel Camp on the Isle of Man to control fascist riots. One of the fifty was Pc Tom Williams, who last week retired from the force at the age of 50.

Pc Williams an 18 stone heavyweight boxer and rugby player living now at 3 Lansdowne-road, Ilford, was stationed at East Ham in 194 when news came through that the “Mosleyites” in the Manx internment camp had staged a riot.

This coupled with other discontent on the island, brought about the riot.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill, called a conference with the Home Secretary, Mr. Herbert Morrison, and put forward the suggestion the London “Bobbies” would soon settle any differences at the camp.

Orders were sent to many London divisions to choose special men for the job, and Pc Williams, a crack rifle shot, was picked from East Ham.

Pc Williams told a “Recorder” reporter on Thursday (the day he retired), “I still don’t know why I was picked for the job, but I expect Mr. Churchill had experience of London coppers. We’re just the right size for a job like that!”

Pc Williams stayed on the Isle of Man for four years, with his wife and children.

“They were a ripe lot there,” he said, “I’ve met a couple of them since.”

When he came back, tom was stationed at Ilford, where he stayed to the end of his period of service.

“A bit quiet after the Isle of Man, but you’d be surprised at the things that go on in Ilford…”

Although retiring from the police force, Tom is not old enough to settle down to a peaceful retirement. He will be travelling up to Town to a work from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday in an office.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Three Way Stretch

This exercise is a sequence of movements to help keep your body in balance, flexible and gently stretched.

I have been meaning to make a video of this sequence for a long time. Those in my class will recognise the movements and I hope this will encourage you to have a go at home.

It involves the basic standing pose of Samastiti, a stretch, a gentle back bend followed by a forward bend, then side stretching to each side from standing.

Helpful Hints

1) Those of you who do yoga will know about the pelvic tilt.

The hips draw back, the coccyx tucks under, and it involves a little lift of your pelvic floor. This movement will help to protect your back. It also helps you keep your balance in the stretch as you balance on the balls of your feet.

So remember to engage your pelvic tilt throughout the sequence!

2) The back bend -

Place your hands on to your hips, take time to draw your shoulder blades together and then you can feel your chest expanding.

3) In a yogic forward bend the hips stay above the legs, but if you have tight hamstrings or any back problems please put a little bend in your knees to ease the lower back strain. Imagine that your lower back is concave. Your chest, like in the back bend feels open, and the front of your body stays long. So don't over do the forward bend especially at the start. Hopefully each time you repeat the sequence it will feel a little easier.

4) To come up out of the forward bend -

Think about your pelvic tilt and engage your tummy muscles, this will give you strength to come up leading with the crown of your head.

5) Keep the inner arm in line with your ear to help keep your body aligned during the side stretches.

6) Smile and keep breathing.

Beginners to yoga should watch the video before trying the sequence themselves. If you have any health issues please consult your doctor. If you are pregnant the pose can be adapted to your needs.

Thanks to brokenarrowfilms for helping me create this podcast.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Drawing your awareness inward

Over the last term I have been encouraging the students to bring their awareness to their bodies and breath.

Sometimes we go to a yoga class and our minds are simply on everything we’ve done or still have to do. Our bodies go through the motions until suddenly, and without us noticing, we begin to focus. The outside world and work is left outside. We have made some time for ourselves. It is blissful and necessary to keep healthy and happy.

This term we worked on our concentration and awareness while practising our Asanas (postures). In our first lesson we referred to it as ‘mindfulness’, as we brought our awareness into the present moment, accepting what is happening right now without judgement or reaction.

The Buddhists focus on mindfulness in all events, so that if you are shaking with nerves in an interview, it doesn’t have to eat into your self confidence and affect the situation. The yogic way is similar, developing our concentration while we focus on the breath. When you are practicing a yoga pose and your thigh shakes it becomes one small sensation. Observe the way you feel and use your breath to accept the current situation.

Stress relief

If you are feeling anxious or agitated it is recommended that you try more invigorating poses, giving your mind something to focus on. We did a sequence of poses to help ground our energy. Focusing on your body will help you to feel calmer if you are feeling stressed. During a class listening to each instruction will also help focus. In Kundalini yoga at end of the asana (posture) a little time is taken in a basic pose giving you the opportunity to observe the way you feel. This term we followed many postures with the child posture to give some time to watch our breath and observe how we felt, to help to feel grounded.

Practicing asanas (postures), and especially when you really focus on what you are doing, reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Then you get the relaxation response.


Pratyahara is the fifth of the 8 limbs of yoga. It is the withdrawal of the senses to focus on one thing.

Meditation is a form of practicing Pratyahara. It involves sitting comfortably and quietly. Unless the body is prepared it is not such an easy thing to do. So in our last class this term we practiced asanas to try to balance the energy of our external body and also our minds. Then at the end of the lesson we spent a little time sitting and withdrawing the senses physically by placing our hands over our eyes and our thumbs over our ears. We just spent a minute or so just listening to our breath. The absence of the distraction of sight and sounds helped us to internalise our awareness. It helps us to understand our own nature and mind.

When we are stressed we can begin to adopt these yogic techniques to gain a better understanding of ourselves to help us to relax physically, mentally and emotionally.

As you learn to weather situations on your mat, you’ll see that as quickly as difficult emotions arise, they also change and fade away.

Ref: Yoga Journal 08, YJ Sept 09, YJ Oct 06

Thursday 20 August 2009

Relax on a Bolster

I have wanted to demonstrate how to use a bolster for some time now and while on holiday this opportunity presented itself. My students know how wonderful it is to relax this way and I hope you will have a go at home. You can roll a blanket up or roll up a pillow and stitch it for a more permanent bolster roll.

Let me know if you enjoy this podcast or need any further advice.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

The Village Fete

On Sunday our village had a Fete on the football field. They had prepared an area for John and myself to demonstrate yoga right in the middle. It was quite pretty surrounded by bunting. Despite the occational rain drop and ridiculous wind, I had books, yoga information and all our kit. The dog show had been cancelled so we were one of the main shows along with the dancers and some races. We did two demonstrations. I wanted to show the villagers that anyone can do yoga. You can be any age, male or female. You don't have to been fit or flexible or strong because practising yoga makes you fit, flexible and strong.

A photographer from Kent Messenger took my photo, which was fun. He said he hadn't seen a yoga demonstration at a Kent village fete before. These are his photos.

Thursday 16 July 2009

The Journey

We have had fun booking our holiday, despite the computer crashing. Once it was booked we felt a sense of achievement. We enjoyed researching things to do, what car to drive and where to stay. Now we can look forward to the holiday.

Yoga practise is like that. And to all my students who work so hard in class they know that it is the journey that is important.

We have recently been doing some of the more tricky poses in class. Some students had a go and were surprised at their own ability. Some decided it was not for them and I support their decision. Yoga is about listening to your body and everyone has their own limits and capabilities.

With yoga, whatever level you are at, there is always something to work on and to work towards, like alignment, or to learn to breathe evenly, to relax or tense a muscle or even to overcome an obstacle to take you on to another level. I can never tire of yoga. Yoga is a practise of discipline and the repeated actions of the postures will lead you on a satisfying journey.

The importance of the journey can also be tied with your senses being in the here and now. Focus on what you can do and what you are doing now, rather than hankering after wanting more. Enjoy your time in the here and now. What ever you do let it be your best.

For those of you who don’t come to my classes I usually end the class with a reading. This is a recent reading from a sanscrit poem ‘The salutation of the dawn’ 5th century CE. I think it is very meaningful.

Our yesterdays are but dreams
Our tomorrows merely visions
But today lived well makes
Every yesterday a dream of joy
And each tomorrow a vision of promise

Sunday 21 June 2009

Audio Yoga Blog

This audio blog is suitable for everyone, whether you do yoga or not. For those of us who do, there is often so much to think about when doing yoga postures that it is easy to forget about the neck, and so, to help your alignment and body awareness, below are instructions for a gentle neck awareness practise.
I hope you find it helpful and relaxing.

Beneficial Back Bends

I love back bends. I am sure they have helped my back ache. Those of us who do gardening naturally take our hands to our hips afterwards and stretch back as a counter pose. We are very aware of how our back feels and therefore rarely over do the movement preventing aggravating something in your back. In general backbends are not a natural movement and therefore it is important to focus on them in our yoga practise. However, sometimes we can try too hard.

Rodney Yee – a yoga teacher likens the heart to Grand Central Station. “You want everything to flow through it. When you over bend anywhere in the spine, it’s like creating a kink in a garden hose. You block the energy flow. When you align yourself properly, you can bring energy to your heart centre. And at the end of your practise, you will feel euphoria. There’ll be an energetic clarity instead of an energetic blasting.”

At the end of practising backbends have you sometimes felt completely exhausted when you’ve just been told they are energizing poses? This may be because there is some compression of the vertebra in the lower back or perhaps the neck.

When you practise back bends and be gentle with yourself.
Be gentle with your spine – imagine it like a wheel. Always keep the lower back long and free from compression. Also avoid over bending your neck, especially at the nape of the neck. Learn to keep your neck long thinking of it as a natural extension of the spine.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Audio relaxation: 'Be in the Present'

Relax on your back

Allow your hips to float up in a gentle bridge

Release any tension in your spine by bringing your knees to your chest

We all lead busy lives and sometimes the days pass and you don’t feel as if you’ve really been there.

I was inspired by an article in the Yoga Journal magazine to write a lesson allowing the students to draw their awaress to themselves, to each part of their body and their breath. To get the feeling of being in the present.
Whether you regularly do yoga or not, you can use this yoga practice to sooth your nerves and bring you back to the fullness and freedom of the here and now. It is based on the bridge pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana.

Click below, listen, relax and give it a go.

Saturday 9 May 2009

A recipe for a starter

There is nothing better than having friends over for a meal but to enjoy yourself you do have to be organized. I had to find recipes that I could prepare the day before as we planned to go out with our friends.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese

This is a nice light summery starter and it is by Mary Berry who did a talk at the Tenterden Food and Wine Festival a couple of years ago. I shopped at Waitrose for my ingredients.

There were 3 peppers in each jar. With a sharp knife it is easy to carefully open them out.

Cut each pepper skin in half then put little dollops of the cheese on each one. (I found there was not quite enough for 6 so in one pepper I put Philadelphia cream cheese and this works perfectly well, especially if someone doesn't like goats cheese.) Of course the cheese could be blended to make a more spreadable filling.

Cut the marinated aubergines with a scissors and place an even number on each skin.
Chop the basil leaves and sprinkle them over each one.
Season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

To make the chimneys:

Tear off some cling film. Place a skin carefully in the centre

Bring the bottom clingfilm up so the skin curls up and then bring the top part of the clingfilm down, and keep the cling film firm. This draws the top of the skin over to make a roll. Seal the roll, rolling the clingfilm round the pepper and gently sealing up the sides like a cracker. Place all the little rolls in the fridge to firm up.

To serve:
Toss some lambs lettuce with a dressing. Cut each roll into two or three and plate up with some lambs lettuce. The fresh flavours work well served with fresh bread and butter.

Serves 6
2 x jars of red roasted peppers

1 x 150g tub soft mild goat's cheese (Chavroux)
Philadelphia if required

salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 200g tub marinated grilled aubergine (chiller counter)
a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Lambs lettuce leaves
french dressing

Thursday 9 April 2009

Weekend with Fens

Last weekend we went to Cambridgeshire and Ely. The weather was gorgeous and we took some photos which John has made into a slide show for your enjoyment. For more details of the weekend go to his blog, but to see the photos just press play below.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

The Vitality Show

Last Friday my friend and I met up at London’s Earls Court 2 and we went to the Vitality Show. I recommend it for a fun girls day out. We enjoyed our mini massages and watching a cooking demo with Philidelphia but sitting at an angle where we could only see the chef, Ed Baines (who luckily was quite cute) and we couldn’t see the food at all.

We both did a class in Face Yoga Training where we learned a 15 minute face training routine to help remove toxins, and stimulate the blood and elasticity of the face, keeping it younger looking. I have bought the CD by Danielle Collins and each day I take some time to sit and follow her instructions. I hold a lot of tension in my face and ears. I would recommend for those who are like me, as each time I massage the skin, I have a little less pain and feel a little calmer.

We also took to opportunity to join a 40 minute Kundalini yoga class with Siri Datta. It was so good to try something new. There were similarities to the Yoga we know and love, but the techniques were quite different. Our teacher talked about chakras and showed us how to take our hands into Mudras to help focus and the breath. We performed small controlled repetitive movements while controlling our breath.

Below are instructions to draw awareness to yourself after completing a pose or even after a job or a stressful moment.

You may be either standing tall in Tadasana (the mountain pose), or in Virasana stretch forward (child pose), or sitting comfortably, your spine long. Close your eyes, and with the eyelids drawn down look up past your eyebrows to the third eye. From the pelvic floor lift everything up internally, then hold your breath. Feel calm and don't strain. Some of you may like to count as you look up to your third eye. Then relax and breathe and just be. Enjoy this quiet time.

This is simple and effective. Anyone can do it. It is helpful for all of us to learn to lift the pelvic floor to prevent bladder problems, especially after pregnancy and in later life for both men and women. My students said afterwards how much they liked this. It is incredibly centring. After the lesson, at the Vitality show, despite all the noise, I just felt incredibly calm.

It just goes to show that there is always something new to learn and new experiences to be had.

Google Vitality Show for more information about this and next years show.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Yin yoga and chores

Over the last week I have taken some time to do some yin yoga in my studio. I found a yin yoga routine in an old Yoga Journal magazine. This was perfect for me. I lit some candles turned up the heating, and with mat, block and bolster I was ready. My back and hips have been aching from the household and garden chores I've been catching up on for the last two weeks. I haven't done much physical yoga except for a few stretches and twists.

Yin yoga is just a softer way of doing yoga. We perform the same poses as we normally do. In this case not the standing poses or flowing poses, but poses/asanas like forward bend in cobblers pose, Bhujangasana - cobra and the sphinx, Janu Sirsasana - head to knee pose and Upavista Konasana - wide legged forward stretch. Sometimes it is really enjoyable to take time in poses and just let go of the tenseness that the body automatically holds. The mind and the body work together. It finds the tension, you let it go, and then the body finds another area and you let that go and so on. And after a while you begin to relax and breathe and it feels so good.

Even if you do not practise yoga you can apply the same principles. For example when you are in the garden digging or bending over and you feel the tension building up in your shoulders, let the shoulders release away from the ears and take a moment to breathe, soften then admire what you have done, smile and continue when you are ready.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Pied Piper

I have had a couple of weeks off, giving me time to do cleaning, clear my filing, do masses of very satisfying cutting back in the garden and finally sort out the garage. It all takes time and it is very cleansing.

I went up to the Barbican in London with my son and I have to tell you about it. Street dancing - you've probably seen the odd lad do it (and dance lovers will have seen the film 'Step Up'). I did not really know what to expect but it was the most amazing dance to see on stage. The scene was an urban setting and they tell a gritty version of the Pied Piper. The dance is superbly choreographed Hip Hop and it was absolutely fantastic. The music was bassy and emotional, and the dancing was so brilliant. These dancers from Stratford are so fit and energetic and they danced with precision, in groups and singularly. The interpretation of movement to the music was astounding and we loved the use of other media to cleverly tell the story. The feel good factor was just huge. Everyone was elated. See it if you can and try and get central seats. It's only on until the 14th March.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Stimulate Your Immune System

After John had his cold I thought how could I prevent myself and my students from catching the bug. I decided to focus the lesson on poses that help stimulate the immune system. Back bends are heart opening and invigorating and as you breathe deeply in the poses you can almost feel your body becoming stronger. The three poses we are focusing on are Bhujangasana – the cobra, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – the bridge, and Matsyasana – the fish.

We warmed up with stretches, neck warm ups and standing poses Trikonasana and the dancing Warrior I (see Jan blog). These heart openers stimulate blood flow and the immune system and therefore practicing these three poses once a day can help prevent colds and flu.

If you are a beginner each of these poses can be lightened. After preparing for the cobra by lifting, lengthening and releasing each leg 3 times, place finger-tips in line with the eyes rather than level with the shoulders. This gives a more gradual curve in the spine. Always remember your pelvic tilt and take long breaths in the pose.

Take nice long breaths visualise the energy travelling from your feet, up along your legs and up through your spine to your heart centre.

Draw back into Virasana Forward Stretch or child pose to release tension in your lower back.

The bridge can be lightened by lifting the hips to create a line from the shoulders, hips and to the knees. Start with the back of your neck long and feet close to your hips. Work your gentle pelvic tilt as you keep the hips lifted so keeping tension out of your lower back. As we’ve been thinking about protecting knees work to keep the knees facing up and not falling in to each other or out.

Take nice long breaths visualise the energy travelling over the front of your body all the way to your knees and down to your feet.

After releasing from the bridge bring your knees to your chest and hug them to you.

In the fish pose the chest lifts and there is no tension in the back of the neck.

Bend your knees, place your hands palms down under your buttocks, elbows tucked in. Don’t think about this next movement too much. Think light thoughts and lift your chest, arching the upper back and rest on your forearms.
Then energize your heart centre with nice long breaths.

Afterwards bring your knees to your chest or the Garland adaptation we did in class to lengthen the spine.


Sunday 1 February 2009

A View From The Bridge

My step son Peter has made his debut in the West End at the Duke of York’s Theatre. On Friday we went to London to see ‘A View from the Bridge’, a play by Arthur Miller. Pete plays a small (but, of course, important) part at the end of the play and is also understudying. It was an excellent play. The audience was spellbound and nobody dared to cough while anyone was talking on stage. The actors got us really hooked especially Ken Stott who you see pictured below. This photo so reflects the intenseness of the play and the emotion of Eddie (the main character). Every character was interesting and engaging. It is a great play and it deserves to have a great run over the next 6 months.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Willesborough Ladies

I am so pleased that Wendy asked me to take her classes while she was on holiday. I have really been enjoying my experience of teaching at Willesborough. If any of you ladies are reading this blog can you bring a small towel (like a hand towel) with you to the next lesson. I forgot to ask you on Tuesday. If you could pass on this message it will be helpful.
I look forward to seeing you all next week.

Monday 26 January 2009

Knee awareness

In case you’ve ever wondered why I’ve said to be careful not to over extend at the back of the knee I thought it would be interesting to understand what hyperextension of the knee is. In the lesson we found out if anyone in the class had this tendency and if so what to do about it. The week before we had drawn our awareness to our feet and so it seemed appropriate to think about protecting our knees next.

I had a wonderful trip to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to see the classical ballet La Bayadère. It was very beautiful, both the dancing and the costumes. I found myself studying their posture. Some dancers do have a tendency to over extend at the back of the knee. Many dancers are prone to this and it may be because they are naturally flexible. It can be genetic or it may caused be bad practice.

The knee should be in alignment with the thigh bone and the shin bone. These bones are held together by ligaments and tendons attached to the quadriceps muscle and hamstrings in the thigh and the calf muscle in the lower leg. If these are stretched then this leads to hyperextension and the knee will not be in alignment. Unfortunately ligaments can not be shortened so one has to just have an awareness or the problem will be exacerbated.

Strengthen the thighs
In the following exercise you will be aware if you do have a tendency to over extend and begin to train the quadriceps to achieve alignment.
Exercise to train the quads:
Sit in Dandasana (the staff pose) on a block with your legs extended out in front of you and your feet in a neutral position
Lengthen through your spine to sit upright
Press your thigh bones to the floor
If your heals lift away from the floor then you are hyper extending
Keep your heals down
You will learn to contract your quadriceps without any hyperextension if you keep your heals down while pressing your thigh bones to the floor.
Notice the action of the upper shin bones when your heals come off the ground they drop toward the floor but they won’t when the heal is down and the thighs are working.
And keep breathing!

It can be strong but just a little practice even a couple of times a week will help. Then take this awareness into your standing poses.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Further thoughts

OK, so I am a little worried that some of you may think that my last statement seemed a little simplistic, so I thought I’d qualify my words briefly!

We all know that we feel better when we eat a healthy balanced diet. None of us like it when we eat too much and end up feel bloated. And even my son noticed the difference when he began to eat a healthy sandwich for lunch instead of a McDonalds burger. He said he felt he had more energy. Healthy eating does involve some planning but this can make life easier on the day with less last minute panics.

Exercise…well this could be anything from taking a walk, swimming, doing yoga (of course) or climbing stairs. These are just my personal favourites. I believe we should do a little exercise everyday rather than just leave it all to one day. Again if we think about it we benefit from exercise that gets the heart pumping and also from stretching and building strength in our muscles.

And finally I recommended laughing. Even when we are feeling low or cross, if you make the effort to smile this sends messages around the body and you’ll feel better. It really works. Feel the muscles in your forehead begin to relax. Laughing is hard for some people. There are special laughter therapy classes and I have been told they really work. At home we all love ‘the big bang theory’ a comic sitcom on TV. I can let you know when it’s on again. But watch kids, they’re funny and so are animals and don’t worry if you laugh out loud on the tube when you read something funny in a book. Just enjoy it.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Laughing for health

John was reading The Daily Mail yesterday and one of the hightlight's, which as usual, of course I don't remember all the specifics, but the gist is that it has been proven that if you laugh a lot it is equivalent to going to a gym for a work out. Apparently it works the core tummy muscles so that you get a nice flat tummy. Therefore my tip is eat healthily, exercise regularly and laugh.

Friday 9 January 2009

Dancing Warrior I

This week we have been gently stretching the body after the Christmas break to improve our flexibility. We tried a variation on Virabhadrasana I - Warrior I pose. It is good for balance, works the shoulders and hips, and helps the legs become stronger and more flexible.

Dancing Warrior I - Step One

Bring your hands into Namaste the prayer position with the thumbs in line with the sternum, elbows out, careful to keep your shoulders down and soft.

Then raise your hands into cactus. Arms are in line with your shoulders, elbows are bent so your wrists are above the elbows, extend up into fingers.
Then take the hands back to prayer position, thumbs in line with the breast bone again.

Repeat this co-ordinating the movements with your breath:
Breathe out in Namaste.

Breathe in to the cactus position.

Tip: check yourself out in the mirror, you’ll be surprised what your arms and hands are doing.

Dancing Warrior – Part Two

Stand in Tadasana at the back of your mat

Place your hands on your hips and step forward with the Right foot. Keep your spine long and upright.

Press the back heal into the mat or support (see tip below)
Tips: Draw the right hip back so the hips become level.
It is ok to turn the back foot out a little and if
your heal comes off the mat pop a block or blanket under it so you have something to press

You could stand in front of a wall and have your heal against the wall to help stability.

Bring the hands to Namaste the prayer position.

Engage the quadracep muscles to lift up the knee caps, being careful not to over extend in the back of the knees.
Lift up from the pelvic floor drawing your
abdomen in.

Breathe in and take the arms out to the sides in cactus and at the same time bending the front knee. (see tip below)

Breathe out straightening out the front leg and bringing the hands back to Namaste.

Tips: Don’t let the knee extend over the foot, keep it
in line over the ankle.

Work with your breath 5 times to each leg.

Once you have worked one side, step the back leg forward and stand tall in Tadasana and breathe. Enjoy the benefits of the pose. Then return to the back of your mat to repeat the pose on the other side.

Thursday 8 January 2009


I hope that you have all had a good start to the year. Going back to work is always a shock to the system but how lovely it is to get into routine again.

I would just like to remind you that if you are one of my students that all details of the classes are on my website which are just a click away. I put the charges up this year. It was hard for me although I haven't had an increase since September 2004. I hope that if it is a problem for anyone they will see me. I don't want anyone to miss out on their yoga.

Classes started this week and I was really happy with the turn out despite the fact it has been so chilly. The heaters in the hall have been on full and the rooms were still not that warm. Three to four layers of clothing did help a bit and I couldn't condemn my students for not wanting to take off their socks. Today I had to cancel two classes at Homewood School as the caretakers wanted to prepare the gym for an exam this Friday and for the next 2 Fridays as well! Nici is on the case trying to find us a new venue. I normally teach the Year 7 and 8 girls after school and then hold another class for staff afterwards. I look forward to getting back to normal, although I sometimes wonder what the definition of normal is.

Friday 2 January 2009

Happy Memories

First of all I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year.

It was with great sadness (yes, lots of tears) that on the 23rd December 2008 we had to have our cat put to sleep. Oliver was our gorgeous tabby cat who has been with us for over 18 years. We brought him and his brother Benson home in September 1990. Unfortunately Benny died back in April 1996. Although Oliver had been deaf for the last couple of years he was the strong one and Benny was the really big, long legged, daft cat. Both were healthy, well behaved and affectionate.

I like to take photos and I keep all my albums within easy reach. I decided that, with the new technology available to me today, I would scan the old photos of both Oliver and Benson to produce a slide show in their memory.

This gave me the opportunity to look through the albums and see the faces of family and friends, some who I’m still in touch with, some with whom I have parted ways and there are those who have died, but we capture happy moments with the camera and looking at them made me smile and laugh out loud. So in mourning my cat I’ve been able to rejoice at all the wonderful people I have known who have made my life so great.