I kick start many of my morning yoga classes in Spring with Kapalabhati. Kapalabhati is an uplifting, detoxifying and energising practise that is often confused with pranayama. Yes, it works with the breath, but it's actually a kriya - a cleansing practice. It's English translation is "skull shining breath" and it really feels like you've cleansed your frontal lobes after a session of Kapalabhati!Read More
I’ve been practicing yoga for 25 years and teaching for 15 years. And I’m a long way from being a guru.
I’ve got plenty of diplomas, degrees and postgraduate qualifications as well as many thousands of hours of experience. But the gaps in my knowledge are as wide as the ocean.
And that’s a good thing. For two reasons.
What brings a clinical psychologist, a celebrant, a yoga teacher and a social worker together on a tropical island? They’ve all come to Bali to learn how to share meditation with their clients.
I’ve been running a 7 day Meditation Facilitator Certificate program in tranquil north Bali. After an early morning practice session, one of the participants tells me that several of her clients have been told by their doctor to learn meditation. “But they don't know where to start," she explained. "That’s why I’ve come here; so that I can teach them myself.”
As the benefits of meditation receive more and more media coverage, health practitioners are starting to recommend meditation to their clients – usually mindfulness meditation because it’s most often in the news.
But there’s a shortage of trained meditation teachers and many people don’t feel comfortable with online learning. Another participant on the Bali training works for a community services organization that recently delivered an online mindfulness program to staff. However, they found that technical difficulties and the inability to ask real-time questions prevented many people from experiencing the full benefits of the practice.Read More
I was recently asked by the Cancer Council to present a Webinar for cancer survivors on how yoga can help people manage their recovery from cancer and move forward into new ways of caring for themselves (you can register to view the Webinar HERE) . Alongside me was Katherine, a young woman who has survived two different types of cancer and shares how yoga has helped her move beyond healing the body and into a state of wellbeing in which she is thriving in all areas of her life. She’s a true inspiration.
The webinar includes information on studies that demonstrate the benefits of yoga for cancer, including:
Struggling to find balance in your life? It could be time to take advice from an ancient sage. Patanjali, the father of modern yoga, compiled a book known as the Yoga Sutras around 2,000 years ago.
Steadiness AND ease are required in asana (yoga postures).
What’s the single most important skill you need to be a good yoga teacher? Proficiency at Asana? Expert knowledge of yoga philosophy? Great sequencing?
Well, all those things are helpful, but you can be the most flexible, knowledgeable person on the planet and still be a rotten teacher. Because teaching isn’t about how good you are at something. It’s about how well you can connect and communicate with others. Let me just define communication here. I’m not talking about the clarity of your verbal cues, or your body language, or your tone of voice. I’m talking about a way of being with others that fosters deep connection, trust and hope.
My morning yoga practice used to be quite elaborate. Then I had kids. These days I enjoy 20 minutes gentle stretching followed by 10 minutes meditation - just enough to get me on track for the day. And, of course, even that's subject to the unpredictable schedules of the rest of the family...
Ruby (11yrs) and Eddie (8yrs) join me for a few down dogs (which usually ends up being more of an all-in wrestling session on the yoga mat) before breakfast followed by the school run.
I received an email recently from a woman called Michelle asking if yoga could help her with insomnia. When I called her to explain how yoga can help manage sleep disorders, she replied “That's great! I've got a couple of kilos to lose and then I’ll sign up.”
Happily, I managed to persuade Michelle that fitness levels and body weight have nothing to do with being able to practice yoga and she started enjoying the benefits of yoga straight away. Michelle is not alone in thinking that yoga is only for fit, slim, bendy people – that’s certainly how it often appears in the media. One of the problems with media images of super flexible yogis doing advanced poses is that many people think “I’ll try yoga when I’m thinner/fitter” or even worse, “yoga’s not for me”.
Yoga and alcohol. It’s a bit of a laugh, isn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t love a glass of something fruity after class?
Disclosure – I’m not teetotal. Weekends are super-exciting at our place. Monday to Friday you’ll find us eating macaroni cheese with the kids and chatting about Minecraft, basketball scores and what other kids have in their lunchboxes. But at weekends, we pack the children off to bed, enjoy some grown up food and indulge in a glass of red wine. We’ve occasionally been known to get through an entire bottle between the two of us over the course of a long weekend. So I’m no wowser.
But I don’t pretend that quaffing wine is part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I do all sorts of things that don’t reflect my highest values, like shouting at my kids, eating rum and raisin chocolate and using the local rat-run before the 7.45am curfew is lifted. Nobody’s perfect.Read More