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Yes we will all need a good collapse on the sofa every so often. Perhaps with a great movie or a nice bottle of wine or whatever helps you to unwind. But a lot of us, only ever do this as our means of relaxation.

The point Vanda Scaravelli makes so beautifully is that most of us are fighting our bodies. We all have to be so driven to make enough money to pay our bills, we are keen to achieve and forced to compete with our colleagues in order to climb up that ladder. Most of us might have forgotten to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us and more than likely, right this moment, it is something like: stop and slow down I’m busy enough as it is, give me a break!

So this summer try to give yourself the chance to look up at the sky, lie down in the grass and smell the flowers, taste some new and yummy flavours, experiment in your kitchen, go to a museum or look up the amazing London architecture. I was at a gig last night at Somerset House and even just wondering around through town was exhilarating. Gazing up at those beautifully constructed buildings, some old some new. Ways to make us remember and keep us connected.

All of those above mentioned are mindfulness techniques, we can use to access the present moment. They are at our disposal all of the time, as long as we remember. This is the trickiest part of it, but well worth playing around with.  If we practice enough we might receive a feeling of connectedness to the here and now, a moment of relaxation and perhaps even a sense of peace in one self, there is no need to be perfect- we want to be just as we are.

People most often come to yoga in order to get fit, or feel more healthy, but for anyone who has done yoga before knows it is so much more than just a physical practice.
Some of my clients who have suffered from insomnia have been amazed by the results even after doing just a few classes. Sleepless nights no more. Taking care of us, yes!

“Now we have to work in the opposite direction, by letting go, giving place to a different action, an undoing action. This will stop the habitual process of doing which has become mechanical.” ~ V. Scaravelli

There will be yoga classes going on this summer, hopefully most of them done in Roundwood Park, so that we can feel the grass between our toes, smell the summer breeze, gaze to the beautiful pink sunsets and listen to the rustling trees. If you would like to come along, please let me know so I can clarify where we will be.

Wishing you all a wild, wonderful, exciting and relaxing summer!

OM SHANTI
Love, Peace, Harmony and Happiness

Samira xx

Samira teaches Vinyasa Flow Yoga on Tuesday’s and Restorative Yoga on Wednesday’s here at The Yard as well as guest teaching at our gatherings.

How the mind-body works, our physiology.

Transformation involves unlearning old patterns and learning new ones. Embodiment of direct experience is the key, in this way we change on a cellular level. In neuroscience this called neuroplasticity. The modern understanding of the brain is that, rather than being a static structure, this organ is constantly remodelling itself. Repeated thoughts and actions can rewire the brain, creating new neural pathways, thus creating new experiences. Learning to regain awareness, sensation, and motor control of muscles is an educational process that can only be achieved through movement.

Below is a paragraph I took form The International Association of Yoga Therapists Magazine. It is an interview with one of my teachers, Bo Forbs, Psy D, Yoga Therapist healer, and founder of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics in Boston.

“There are two types of embodied insight: We experience the first kind when mental insight or understanding “trickles down” into the body and becomes integrated on almost a cellular level. The second is a more visceral, body-based insight or gnosis, which can “trickle up” to the conscious mind, but may not necessarily do so, and it’s fine if the mind never comprehends what’s happened.  Embodied insight, to me signals that the neural and even the “pranic” wiring in our mind-body network has changed. This kind of change is utterly life transforming. The two states (mental understanding and embodied insight) are markedly different and sometimes mutually exclusive”.

In my classes I truly give space for this embodied insight to start to trickle up and down to your body and mind so it can be understood holistically. Slow somatic exercises will mark the path so you will know what is going on as we progress in the practice and understand the nature of your body-mind.

Working inside out like this is absolutely the only way we can experience true insight, becoming fluid systems with a capacity to adapt to life challenges.

As we practice mindfulness of the body-mind simultaneously, this insight will start to filter through our ordinary states of consciousness which will ripple out into how we live ordinary moments.

Marcela Wakeham is one of our fabulous yoga teachers here at The Yard, leading ‘Body & Mind‘ and ‘Stretch & Strength‘ classes.

Mindfulness is a meditative awareness practice that develops a capacity to attend to the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and external stimuli with a receptive, non-invasive attitude.

In order to develop this attitude of sensitive, non-manipulative attention, we need to develop proprioception during our classes (the term proprioception is used to describe the sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement).  The way to cultivate proprioception is through simplifying what we are doing, slowing down to observe what is happening and create a space for reflection.  This is why it is good to do a quiet practice in order to discover what’s going on in our body moment to moment.

Below is a list of things to do to help increasing proprioception and amplify our capacity for this receptive attention -

  • Simplifying a position
  • Narrowing the range of movement
  • Providing props, such as blocks and straps for support
  • Choosing a different position

Your own body will let you know how to do it as all of us can perform movements that will help to ease up our experience.  This is all about bringing awareness to the bodily sensations once proprioception is in light, and the question then is;  how I can bring this body more comfort using the breath as a companion?  Then, how I can get still, move with awareness or stay with everything in place?  This is somatic intelligence.

As we start to understand our bodies and accept what is in the present moment as we work with the use of props and the body intelligence to modify a posture, the ease we are trying to feel in the exercises or postures will come, we just need to hear what the body needs, and then acceptance itself shifts our experience.

In mindfulness practice we are neither controlling what is happening to us, nor wallowing in resignation of our fate.  We are simultaneously accepting what is here, and allowing room for the potential of change.  This attitude becomes the foundation for authentically befriending our self.

Sometimes emotions of frustration will be triggered or feelings of confusion can arrest us, this is all natural, it is the old habits and conditioning being exposed, but this old stuff is not us.  As Sarah Powers, a Yin Yoga leader teacher, says -

“When we can include rather than deny or fight with what is really true within us, the emotion becomes a little more porous.  We can then inhabit the feeling consciously, discovering how every feeling feels inside our body. While we are exploring the immediate body sensations, we also relax believing the story we might be telling ourselves, whether we are justifying, blaming, or feeding self-condemnation for having these feelings.  Instead of analyzing, we stay with the direct immediacy of our experience as it is unfolding in the body, giving our feelings room to breathe.  Since emotions are not static, we will naturally notice how they morph into other feelings.  As they shift, we continue to allow these changes without self-definition.  In this way we learn to know anger or sadness directly, free of creating a permanent self or me out of them.  We remain fluid within our moments, with a wider range of capacity for allowing the totality of human emotions to move through us”.

Marcela teaches ‘Body & Mind’ and ‘Men’s Stretch & Strength’ classes here at The Yard. Look out for the second part of her blog next week on how the mind-body works!

Graces class will resume in September

Join us for 75 minutes of your eveningwhere will remind your body & mind to move, open, play & flow by using the magic of the breath & vinyasa. Stretch out from the deepness of your core to the tips of your fingers & toes…60 minutes of flow, 15 minutes of sweet restoration. Classes are led by Grace Brown, a 200 hour qualified Vinyasa Flow & Hatha Yoga teacher. Grace’s class will accommodate your body to move, play, stretch, restore and breathe.

Classes take place weekly from 7:00-8:15pm and are open to every level! 6 classes for £50/ £10 to drop-in.

To book please call Kirsty on 07976 747422 or email info@gracelandsyard.com

Come and join us for a sweet 75 minute Hatha Vinyasa Yoga class, moving mindfully with your breath , feeling and  flowing. And at the end of the class you will enter the most lush relaxation, after all your hard work! Classes are led by Pip Roberts, a yoga teacher who’s natural energy and zest is reflected in her teaching style. The class will run fortnightly on Thursdays from 7:45-9pm so come and take an evening out to breath, bend and smile.

This is an open class which means it is suitable for absolute beginners or yoga experts! 6 classes for £50 / £10 drop in where available.

To book call Kirsty on 07976 74 73 22 or email info@gracelandsyard.com

Yoga Workshop

Saturday 24th May 2-4pm

Take some time out after a busy week at work and join us for this beautiful workshop using asana, pranayama and dhyana to open the heart centre.

Led by Hannah Rzysko, she intends to share some of the well being, peace and happiness that yoga has given her.

Only £20 for a 2 hour workshop! For bookings please call Kirsty 07976 747322

Saturday 17th May @12:30pm

Join us for this special yoga and art journalling workshop held here at The Yard hosted by the wonderful Jonquil Cooper & Moyra Scott.

In the workshop you will physically, mentally and emotionally explore the polarities of life. And, by finding, we will spark up our unlimited source of creativity and joy. If you want to feel fabulous & creative on Saturday then this workshop is for you! Only £45.

For more info & to book you space, please call Kirsty on 07976 74 73 22 or email info@gracelandsyard.com

The Earth Connection: A Guide to Staying Grounded for Busy Times

So what exactly does it mean to be grounded?  It is a term we hear more and more these days in a fast paced modern world where technology, work and  family demands can all take their toll at points, leaving us feeling stressed, wired and disconnected.  On a very primal level, being grounded speaks of our connection to the earth beneath our feet – a source of potent and revitalising energy which roots us to this world in a palpable way.  Everything is made up of energy – known as ‘chi’ in Chinese medicine and ‘prana’ in yogic circles, it is this vital energy which, when depleted, can leave us feeling exhausted and even depressed.

We spend a great deal of time in our heads in the West, which can serve to disconnect ourselves from the rest of our body and its needs and also place an unhealthy amount of attention on a part of ourselves that doesn’t always have the right answers or even a nice word to say!  Yogic and more Eastern philosophies and medicine recognise the true energy centres in a human being as the heart and the hara, the vibrant power hub located just below the naval centre.  Obviously we have a mind for good reason but it needs to be balanced alongside these two centres for a more sustainable and joyful way of life.

So how do we become more grounded?  The simplest way is to walk barefoot on the ground whether it be a local park or your garden, or if you are lucky to find yourself near one, a stroll along a sandy beach.  The simple act of walking is a powerful way to connect to our legs and feet and to allow  the magnificent force of earth energy to clear energy blocks in the lower body allowing prana to circulate more freely.  If you are unable to do this for lack of green space or weather reasons (!) there are other ways to ground your energy.  From a soothing self-foot massage, a warm bath with a few drops of grounding oils such as patchouli and frankincense, through to having a new haircut or manicure.  All of these activities stimulate and balance the root chakra, the grounding energy point in the body helping you to feel calmer, more connected and present.  People with vital and balanced root chakras are independent, physically and financially secure and able to thrive.  People with weak or unbalanced root chakras tend to be fearful, insecure and concerned about their physical or financial security. Keeping crystals such as red agate or smoky quartz on your person either in the form of jewellery, in a pocket or even in a bottle of water to create a gem elixir, are all excellent ways to help ground your subtle energies – you can buy crystals for just a couple of pounds from esoteric gift shops, websites and even on eBay!

If you are feeling ungrounded in the office, for example after a morning of meetings or having been sat in front of your computer, a quick way to become more grounded is to wiggle your toes or clench your feet as though making fist and take a bit of a stroll around your environment.  Energy flows where focus goes so the very simple act of turning your awareness to your feet and legs can help the flow out of the head and into the rest of your body allowing for a boost of new energy while the mind has a quick breather.

Yoga asanas are very helpful in grounding our energies.  Standing poses such as the warrior sequences, triangle and tree, are all very effective in building strength in the lower body, especially the legs.  There are some transformative kundalini poses that also ground the energy and many of these can be found online.

Being grounded also means being very present in our thoughts and attitudes and awareness.  This sense of being grounded to the present moment is known as ‘mindfulness’ and practicing it can help us to stay balanced, centered and aligned, enabling us to control the reactive knee jerk and defensive behavioral patterns of our ego and shadow consciousness.  Just noticing your immediate environment – the colour of the walls, the movement of the wind in the trees, the sounds in and around you are all instant ways to become more grounded into the present moment.  I will end by wishing you a connected and grounded rest of day and with the wise and beautiful words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

Om shanti om xx

Becca Harrison, Yoga Teacher and Reiki Practitioner

Becca’s classes take place on Monday’s and Friday’s here at The Yard.

A ‘holistic’ approach to life is now becoming a more recognised term, which represents the importance for each individual to learn to live a balanced and Spiritual life.  Living a wholesome lifestyle with a healthy Spiritual approach is fundamental when aiming to attain full body detoxification for radiant health and well-being.

The physical body and mind fit together perfectly with the Spirit, though Spirituality is often the aspect that is overlooked in people’s busy lives.  So if you are seeking a Super Detox it is essential that all of these elements are well-maintained and focused upon.

We understand that cleansing our physical bodies plays an important part in maintaining good health and balance.  The process helps us resolve ongoing health issues and increases our body’s energy.  But detoxification of the mind too, is essential when embarking upon the cleansing of our physical body, and doing this in a holistic way often manifests changes on many different levels, all of which are key to healing.

Changing and cleansing negative patterns will increase one’s health and assist in reducing emotional stress and anxiety levels.   Then during, and post-detox, these feelings are often replaced with more positive emotions such as happiness, clarity, peace and love!

I believe that everyone is a Spiritual being with intuition they can use, simply by taking time to recognise, acknowledge and work with it!  A beautiful, accessible gift offering unlimited guidance and wisdom.  Learning to use your intuition will help you discover the type of detox your body needs and pinpoint which areas need to be focused upon.

Detox can naturally enhance one’s Spirituality in relation to their everyday lifestyle.  Within a few days of starting a cleansing process, we begin to feel clearer, and experience renewed energy.  As the detoxification continues, a stronger dedication emerges towards eating better, and we naturally begin to create time and space to focus on our positive thought patterns.

I advise clients undertaking physical cleansing processes, of  the many ways they can start their own Spiritual detox, teaching them techniques for visualisation and ways to focus the mind.

Begin to create some time for yourself; embark on a form of meditation or prayer, and learn to nurture your Spirit.  Finding time everyday to connect for just a few minutes in silence or by journalling, walking, meditating, chanting, yoga or surrounding yourself with inspiring music.  You can choose whatever intuitively works for you!

Every movement is a spine base articulation, which emerges form a supple jet strong dynamic core. But the ability to feel the core we must slow down our movements, being aware of the transitions as we flow in the class is one of the ways to bring aliveness to our movements, we will experience the transitions between poses as though they themselves are poses.

When we slow down our practice, we can pay attention to the space in between poses, and move from our core body. When we do so, our arms, legs, head, and all of our movements become an extension of our core body strength and awareness. We also become more aware of what parts of the body are “sleeping,” or less awake and aware, and what parts may be overused.
When we learn to become present for the transitions within our practice, we learn to be present for life’s transitions off the mat as well. We learn to navigate these transitions with grace, through awareness, and from our true centre.

Lets work from inside out to unravel this basic need. Hope you can join me every Tuesday 12:45pm to 13:45 for an open level class, and male classes every Thursday at 7:30 to 8:30pm

To book on to one of Marcela’s classes, please call the Yard on: 0208 960 7450 or email: info@gracelandsyard.com