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Awaken Your Inner Sun

January 11, 2017
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Often students ask me how to develop and maintain a sense of grace and lightness throughout asana practice. My response is always the same; that it is ab-solutely down to the core.

Many paint an incomplete picture of the core, associating the core only to the commonly sought after aesthetic of a well-defined ‘six pack’. In truth, the abdominals form only one of several components that make up the core. The core is essentially the whole central chunk of the body, allowing functional movement in all three planes of motion as well as being a stabiliser and force transfer centre. Imagine your core as the sun and your limbs as beams of light radiating off this centre.
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In this workshop, we will approach the core as both a physical and an energetic space. Through dynamic asana practice, we will explore the differences between strengthening and stabilising the core. We will learn to access movement from the core efficiently, cultivating strength that stems from physical integration and connection whilst maintaining a safe and injury free practice. Ultimately, being able to experience the powerful experiences of lightness and being whole.
 
Discover how to adore the core beyond its aesthetics as we experientially refine our understanding of core strength and stability to safely enjoy playing on the ‘edges’ of practice, exploring individual possibilities whilst respecting limitations. 
 
Join David for his Core workshop on Saturday, 18th February from 1:30 – 3:30, which is now available for booking. Two hours of dynamic asana and a fair bit of belly laughing. All bellies welcome.
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David is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher specialising in Dance-Specific Yoga. Known for his emphasis on graceful yet functional transitions, he empowers students to take ownership of their yoga journey and develop a playful practice to constantly test their limits and explore new perspectives. His classes are liberating to the body, picturesque in the mind and light on the heart. David teaches on Wednesdays at 12:30pm at the Power Yoga Company. Learn more about David by visiting his website http://www.davidkamkiawei.com/ 

Yoga for Kids

December 19, 2016

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I have been teaching a kids class at the Power Yoga Company for over a year now and the more I teach the more I learn from the children.

When I was asked to write a blog entry I thought for a long time about what I would say, and I couldn’t decide… should I share the benefits of yoga for kids, or my thoughts on the importance of keeping the classes dynamic and fun?  Well yes, I could, but what I really want to talk about is comparison and competition.

As adults we constantly compare and contrast; we measure ourselves against other people, and we are bombarded with so much choice in everything – which brands to buy in the supermarket, what clothes to wear, which route to take to work – in everything we do.  For children life is very different – there is not much choice in their everyday lives, so much is mapped and planned for them. From how to get to school and at what time, their timetables at school, what they eat, to what time they go to bed. The adults in their lives make most of the decisions. But children are still subjected to comparison and competition just as adults are. They compare themselves academically in class, they compete for attention from the adults in their lives, and they measure themselves against their peers in sport.

So what does this have to do with yoga?

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Well in yoga there is no competition, there is no measuring or clamour (except when everyone is excited about a yoga game). Instead, everyone is encouraged to do as much as they want to and to make suggestions for the enjoyment of the whole class. The games we play aren’t competitive, they are collaborative.  There is no “I’m better than her” but sometimes there is “I’m better than last week”.

The partner poses we practise are reliant on both children giving it a go and seeing what they can do. Each of us has our favourite breath exercise but there is no prize for the best breathing! Relaxation or Savasana is as important in a kids’ class as it is in an adult one. It is often hard to lie still and let go, to let the mind drift and the body relax, to just be, but the children often tell me it is their favourite part of the class.

It is crucial for children to just be – no hurry, no worry, no comparisons or competition and yoga can supply this. What a gift.

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Serena Lillingston teaches yoga for kids aged 8 – 11 years on Wednesdays at 4:45. To find out more about Serena, visit her website.

Nurture your inner self

November 9, 2016

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When we feel stressed our body suspends all unnecessary bodily functions that are not essential for survival. Digestion, reproduction, growth and healing stop whilst blood pressure and heart rate increase as the body prepares to fight, flight or freeze. The dilemma for us humans is that we can trigger a stress response from our thoughts alone (just thinking about that impending deadline) and we are not very effective at turning it off.

During moments of stress, the body releases adrenalin and cortisol, and unless we release this tension, it stays with us. So, the tension you experience today could be from a stressful event that occurred five years ago. In this workshop, I will teach you a technique that will release deep chronic tension and discharge the high adrenal and cortisol levels. Through a guided shaking technique focusing on the hips, hamstrings, shoulders and back, our bodies will begin to let go of stored muscular tension – a bit like a massage but from the inside out. Once you have learned how to release your tensions, the workshop will end in a guided relaxation so you leave restored.

This workshop will enable you to handle stress and adversity more effectively by teaching you how to take ‘ownership’ of your recovery and give you some simple tools to switch out of fight or flight and back into resting and digesting.

Join Vicky for her Stress Release workshop on Saturday, 26th November from 1:30 – 3:30, which is now available for booking. It is suitable for all levels and no experience of yoga is necessary.

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Since qualifying in 2008 Vicky has studied with many world-renowned teachers such as Rod Stryker, Doug Keller, and Julie Gudmestad. In 2013, she studied with Laura Kupperman on her Yoga for Survivors course and began teaching  yoga for those living with cancer. Vicky teaches regularly at the Power Yoga Company, with classes on Mondays at 11am, Wednesdays at 9:15am, Fridays at 11am and Sundays at 5:15. Learn more about Vicky by visiting her website.

Getting to the Core with Cloudia Hill

October 18, 2016

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We often think of the core as being our abdominal muscles, or the ‘six pack’. While this may be aesthetically pleasing, you can still have a weak core even if you are sculpted like a Greek god or goddess.

Our core has three-dimensional depth and functional movement in all three planes of motion but many of these muscles are hidden beneath the exterior six pack that people tend to train more often. These deeper muscles include the transverse abdominals, diaphragm, TVR and pelvic floor. What many people do not know is that the core also includes the gluteus maximus, minimus and quadriceps, which create a trunk from the shoulders through to the knee.

Having a strong core is often referred to as having a ‘snug corset’ wrapping itself right around you, protecting you from knees to shoulders. It is also essential for sports and day to day activities to reduce the impact on our joints and bones, and it makes yoga practice easier and safer.

Very often we are told to strengthen the core if we have bad posture or lower back problems. This means strengthening what we deem the abs but it also requires strengthening the gluteus, lengthening the hamstrings and activating the hip flexors, which are often neglected. To truly create strength and stability in the core, we must concentrate on the front body as well as the sides and the back. This is because strengthening the entirety of the deep core area contributes to improved balance and better coordination and flexibility, which, in turn, will deepen our asana practice and enable us to transition more gracefully and controlled.

This workshop will give you the tools to use on and off the mat to help strengthen and deepen your practice. We will look into common problem areas that we encounter during our practice and develop techniques that you can incorporate into your own practice. This will be followed by a beautifully sequenced class that will strengthen the body, develop focus and balance the mind.

Cloudia’s workshop is on October 29th from 1:30 – 3:30pm and is now available for booking.

Cloudia Hill is a Yoga teacher and Actress in Theatre, TV and Film. She currently works in Studios around London and is Co/Founder of Yogalux.

Calling all Teens in South West London to the Power Yoga Company!

October 10, 2016

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The benefits of yoga are endless at every age, but I think most people who practice regularly would agree with me when I say that I wish I had been introduced to yoga when I was a teenager!

Creating a safe, secure internal place, learning to elicit the relaxation response, and connecting with the world around me in a deeper way would have been a precious gift as a teen. Not to mention the other benefits: self-discovery, self-regulation of emotions, balanced moods, less reactivity, physical fitness, improved sleep and healthy body image.

Yoga can also support our teens with the academic demands of being at secondary school – helping to reduce stress and anxiety, enhancing mental clarity, focus and coordination – as well as the extreme social pressures of their online world.

There’s some good evidence to support these ideas. For over three decades, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been studying the effects of yoga on health and, more recently, its effects on children and teens. In his research, he has found that almost all of the teens who practiced yoga, as compared with just P.E., reported feeling increasingly resilient, focused, and better able to emotionally handle and deal with stress.

I love being able to watch teens enjoy and benefit from the practice and get to know themselves in a whole new way, and I would love for every teen to give it a go! There are no requirements, you don’t have to be sporty or be able to touch your toes to try yoga. The practice is truly designed for everyone of all ages, gender and ability.

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Teen Yoga classes with Sophie Purvis at the Power Yoga Company are every Thursday after school from 5:15-6:15pm. If you have a teenager, are a teenager or know a teenager then spread the word! Girls and boys are welcome between the ages of 12 and 17.  

Find full body relaxation with Yoga Nidra

September 27, 2016
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“In Yoga Nidra, we restore our body, senses and mind to their natural function and
awaken a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, that only sees
wholeness, tranquility and wellbeing,” Richard Miller, PhD.


Yoga Nidra is a blissful type of meditation practice that invites deep relaxation and physical restoration, and provides an opportunity for profound internal enquiry and transformation.

The practice enables us to reconnect to our “innermost essence”, our natural state of Being – that which is inside all of us, which is always present and always whole, well and at peace, but just often pushed to the background of our busy and stressful lives.

It is whilst resting in this state of Being that we can meet everything that is present within ourselves, allowing us to move through emotions, thoughts and beliefs that have perhaps been holding us back in life.

Here, we also come to not only realise but actually feel our interconnectedness with all fellow humans and life – a magical feeling and what yoga is really all about.

One of the great things about Yoga Nidra is that anyone, with or without prior meditation experience, can benefit from the practice and the more you practice, the more you experience its benefits. It differs from more common forms of yoga where we are working towards something – whether that is achieving physical postures, or controlling our breath or the mind – in order to experience moments of stillness or awareness. In Yoga Nidra, we do nothing other than lie resting on the floor listening to our teacher’s voice guide us into a blissful state of Being, a feeling of having returned ‘home’ to ourselves.

If you’re intrigued, come along to one of my classes on a Friday evening, 6:30-7:30pm, at the PYC. The type of Yoga Nidra that I’ll be sharing is informed by the teachings of yogic scholar and clinical psychologist Richard Miller, PhD, founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute (iRest). iRest Yoga Nidra integrates modern psychology and neuroscience with the ancient practice and there is now a growing body of evidence to support its benefits.

Sophie believes yoga provides us with a way to live fuller and more meaningful lives, and to connect to that innate sense of peacefulness wellbeing and truth present within us all. Sophie’s classes are both dynamic and grounding, strong and soft, challenging and nurturing – creating strength, space and opening within students’ bodies, minds and hearts. Find Sophie at the PYC on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. For more information about Sophie, visit her website:www.sophieyogalondon.com

The Quest for the Press

August 2, 2016

 

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Ambra Vallo will flip your inversion practice upside down

 

Some see it as a kind of Holy Grail: the perfect ‘no effort’ drift into Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) as a new relationship with gravity. It looks smooth and it feels even better. But there’s more to it than that. I’ve been teaching inversion workshops for a while and therefore it’s important for me to ensure I fully understand the ‘ins and outs.’ As it happens, my very first teacher simply would not let me jump into a handstand, and since then I never have. In fact, I actually find jumping into handstand less comfortable and more erratic.

What are the real benefits of a smooth, controlled glide into inversions? Well, smooth and controlled are key here. Pressing hands firmly into the ground leads to far greater control, enabling inversions to become a constituent part of a regular practice rather than the uncertain bit, which is both fun and frustrating but always a mental and physical challenge. Without the elements of smoothness and control, inversions can be a distraction, taking you away from your breath and the root purpose of your practice.

 

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Ambra using the ‘press’ to prepare for handstand

 

Physically, the ‘press’ is likely to add longevity to a strong practice too. Each time you jump into a handstand, you put additional, excess pressure into your lower back, wrists and shoulders, which, in time, they won’t thank you for. By pressing in a controlled way, you also make sure that you stack your joints correctly from the entry into the final pose. Imagine trying to build a stable tower of glasses by throwing one on top of another from a few feet away, compared with gently placing one on top of the next. The latter’s definitely going to lead to less cleaning up!

 

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Using the ‘press’ to move with grace and poise

 

So, yes, the ‘press’ is cool, but it’s also absolutely functional in building greater longevity and enjoyment into your practice.

In this workshop, we will spend time learning many basic techniques used to find that initial press as well as fun presses into handstand from arm balances such as Crow, One-Legged Crow and Firefly. Whether you are experienced or completely new to being upside down this workshop will support you on your journey. Inversions are a great place to build trust while practicing patience and playfulness.

Join Ambra Vallo on 10th September for a two-hour inversion workshop that will help you to overcome the challenge of going upside down, and conquer inversions with grace.

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