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Meet Fredrik Underhaug

March 28, 2018

 

Born and raised in Bergan, Norway, Fredrik has always been passionate about health and well-being. He is a trained firefighter and personal trainer, and completed our 200hr teacher training this year.

Fredrik recognised through yoga that change starts from the inside and out. With a strong focus on the breath and a love of inversions, you’ll leave his class feeling grounded and more confident on and off the mat. We caught up with him at the studio.

How did you get into yoga?

Two or three years ago a good friend of mine dragged me into his yoga class to show me that it wasn’t just all wishy washy. In an instant I fell in love with it and started to come to every class I could.

I started doing 30 days for £30 at every studio that offered it near to where I lived and it set me up with a daily practice for months.

I quickly started to see huge improvements both in my physical and mental health. The revelations kept on coming – I realised that I’d prioritised others over myself and not listened to my needs in a very long time…  I saw a lot of changes in my life in general.

 

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What made you want to become a yoga teacher?

I’d been working as a personal trainer for some time and loved seeing my clients progress and make positive changes in their lives, I believed becoming a yoga teacher would enable me to help more people.

As I said, I totally fell in love with Yoga. I was also fortunate to be part of a very nice community at Collaborative Yoga, which was a charity project. They asked me to become part of their teacher team and started letting me assist and shadow their classes.

How did teacher training change you?

Teacher training definitely made me more flexible, in mind and body! It also opened my eyes to how yoga can be accessible to any person, no matter age or physical limitations. I began to consider how my yoga practice would change as I grow older.  We all want to be practicing when we are 110 and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.

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What do you think makes a good teacher?

An inquisitive mind and a compassionate nature. Someone who does a lot of self practice and gets experience through their own practice. What I’ve learned from going to a lot of different classes and teachers is that you have to teach what rings true to you. Use your own experiences on and off the mat and find your own way.

Of all the benefits Yoga has to offer, which of them has had the greatest impact on your life?

I find in this busy London life Yoga really has a tremendous effect on my mental health. My practice calms me down, making me more focused and clear.

What’s your favourite pose and why?

Pincha Mayurasana! I love the feeling of strength and stability that I get in this posture, it’s my favourite way to enjoy the benefits of being upside down.

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When you’re not teaching, where are we most likely to find you?

At a climbing wall or a taco place!

Favourite track to practice to?

Tash Sultana – Notion. Anything by Tash Sultana!

Any advice for those interested in the teacher training?

My number one tip for anyone embarking on teacher training: don’t be afraid to fail and mess up. That’s the place you can do it and should do it, so you get over the fear of teaching others. Fail, fail, fail and then in the end you’ll be teaching something you know and have experienced.

You can check out Fredrik’s weekly classes here.

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My Yoga Teacher Training Experience – A yoga teacher in the making!

March 22, 2018

By Silvia Lopez Herrero

Why Yoga?

Eight years ago, long hours of studying for a PhD was causing me mental and physical stress. I started looking for a way of dealing with this and took my first yoga class. Immediately something lit up inside me. I had been practicing karate for 20 years, now not having to strain myself or fight someone to ‘workout’ was a revelation.  The yoga teacher’s words: “practice from compassion”, “cultivate love to yourself” and “stay within your limits” really meant something new and special.

Both Martial Arts and yoga work with drishti and connection to the mind, and that’s what drew me to these practices – the cultivation of concentration, precision and strength. At the time I wasn’t even aware of the spiritual goal and benefits of yoga which today are so important to me!

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The next step…

After years on the mat I had more and more questions that I needed guidance with.  I craved more information on all aspects of the discipline: the body-mind connection, health benefits, the spiritual path…you name it.

I decided to undertake the Teacher Training when I needed a break from my work and hoped to have a transformative experience that would give me an insight on the next steps in my life.

PYC is my local studio. I’ve practiced here for years and it feels like home to me – I feel safe and cared for. But London has so much to offer, I owed it to myself to research other yoga teaching training. I tried several introductory weekends, but nothing else offered the standard I expected for such an investment of time and money. The PYC training offered the right balance of teachers’ quality & experience, curriculum and time frame. My decision was made!

Like many others on the course, my primary intention was to deepen my practice, not to become a teacher. But now, not even two months later, I am running my first seven-week yoga course. Yoga helps you find your own path, your dharma.

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What doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you.

The training gave me so much more than I had expected. Days were long and intense, but from Day 1 we were applying what we learnt. That was invaluable in helping us build confidence and integrate theory and practice. The schedule was a good balance of subjects and practice, and the teachers were an incredible source of knowledge.

For me the most important qualities a teacher can have are: passion, compassion, discipline, an open heart and an open mind, devotion, inspiration and support. Every teacher had these in abundance.

The part I enjoyed most was supporting my fellow students as they evolved their practice. Now supporting others entering the yoga journey is what moves me to keep teaching and is behind my first collaborative yoga-teaching project.

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Am I a yoga teacher?

I’m definitely on the way! Marie-Laure, one of the PYC founders and coordinator of the teacher training course, guided me towards a transformative insight after the course. I know now that my goal is not to teach yoga but to learn from teaching and keep sharing what I have learnt. For me, learning is where my soul belongs. Thanks again to my angels, Marie-Laure and Amelie!

This is just the beginning…

I am a busy bee flying after knowledge – the pollen of life –  to produce the honey of life: personal growth! So many things resonate within me to achieve this: science, yoga, clowning, painting, writing, traveling and, most delightfully, being a mum!

So if you see me around, come and say hello or drop me an email with your personal views at silvialoher@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ignacio Ruiz – Meditation for everyone

March 21, 2018

Ignacio Ruiz teaches our new Meditation class every Saturday 1:45pm-2.30pm at PYC. He talks to us about his journey from student to teacher and offers some helpful tips for beginners.

 

What first brought you to yoga?

In 2005 I had been practicing on and off for years when I came across yoga teacher Martin McDougall. I was immediately hooked by his very physical style but, as time passed, I came to realize that the physical side of yoga is only part of something much bigger, deeper and more powerful.

 

Why did you start practicing meditation?

A good friend explained the basics steps. That first night, at bedtime, I sat on a couple of yoga blocks and meditated for three minutes. I repeated the sequence the next day… and the next. After only a few days I could feel my mind changing, generating a subtle and profound sense of focus and calm. I was fascinated and wanted to explore further.

 

Why should we meditate?

As well as teaching, I work as a freelance consultant. A few months after I started meditating I was given an assignment with the Canadian government. Their explanatory letter told me about the work I was to do and assured me that the letter would grant me entry into Canada. When I showed the letter to the border official he screamed that I couldn’t get into Canada “just like that”!

If this had happened a few months before, I would have become very anxious and possibly confrontational. To my surprise,  I said to myself “if this man feels he needs to bark at me… let him be, nothing I can do. Worst case scenario is I fly back to London, sort out a visa and I will be back here in a couple of weeks”. I was telling this to myself with a tranquility and calmness that surprised me.

I was soon let in and on my way to Toronto marvelling at the powerful shift in my thinking. Meditation had completely changed the way I reacted to a stressful situation. It wasn’t that I was telling myself how to act and think, this balance was coming from within me. Outstanding.

 

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What does it feel like to meditate?

There are two aspects to consider; how we feel in a meditation practice and how it affects our everyday life.

In a meditation session, you develop a deep sense of peace. The world expands inside you and a new part of you, your inner being, develops. Like anything else in life, some days this is easy, other days less so. But the trick is to go through the process every day.

The effects on daily life are even better. Almost without noticing, you develop an internal sense of balance, which has a massive impact on all aspects of your life. You can manage challenging situations, like the man barking at me at the border, your health improves, and you develop your capacity to help, and accept help from others in your personal and professional life. As you deepen your meditation practice, the centre that you develop becomes present all the time, giving you the sensation of an expanded mind. You start to understand everything around you and you develop a deep sense of inner freedom. It raises your quality of life to another level.

 

Why did you decide to become a meditation teacher?

Discovering meditation is one of the best things that has happened to me. I decided to teach because I want to share my experience and help others. I like to think of it as my little contribution to a better world, as far as my ability permits.

Over time I hope to build a community to share our meditation experience and develop conversations and exercises to bring an element of fun to meditation. These things are important for a sustained practice.

 

Why do you think that meditation is important in the world we live in today?

That’s a massive question. Our digital, hyper-stimulating lifestyle influences all of us by depriving us of time to process our experiences. We may not fully realize this, because the change appears to be slow, but the impact is huge.

Meditation has been part of the human experience for several thousand years, but it may be now that it is most needed. It is central to improving our quality of life; it makes us aware of who we are, where we are and what we want from our lives, at a time when the speed of everyday life pushes us to act like a hamster in a wheel – constantly marching onwards without knowing why. The rewiring of our brain that meditation brings gives us the clarity and perspective we need to feel settled within ourselves.

 

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How do I begin meditating? 

The most difficult part of a meditation practice is starting it! We all find ways to jeopardize our own happiness, ‘reasons’ to postpone things even though we know they are good for us. It’s just part of human nature.

Really, as Iyengar explained in his texts, you can learn all you need to know in five minutes. The basics are surprisingly simple and there are many good resources out there: classes, books, websites and apps. But meditation is a skill that requires commitment and practice, just like any other. It’s all about practice – you never stop learning. You need to practice every day, but not for long: the good news is that five minutes a day is enough to achieve wonders…… and who can’t spare five minutes a day to become a happier individual?

 

How do you know if you are actually meditating or just sitting quietly?

Ha ha! That’s a good one. Meditation requires a focused and concentrated effort, but you emerge from it with more energy than you started with. ‘Sitting quietly’ doesn’t achieve that.

Yoga philosophy tells us that in meditation you generate and channel prana (life energy). Other esoteric approaches say that meditation helps align or energise your chakras, or receive energy from the universe. The western scientific belief is that when we meditate we are ‘rewiring’ the electrical paths of our nervous system and optimising our biochemistry.

 

I know you have a scientific background, is it at odds with the yogic tradition of meditation?

I find it fascinating that meditation has been around for 4-5,000 years, and science is only now discovering what yogis and meditators have known for a very long time. Last year I attended the International Symposium for Contemplative Research, a gathering of around 400 amazing scientists, teachers and social workers. All of them use or study some form of meditation.

We now know about the neuroplasticity of the brain, that the electrical pathways that exist in our brains change in response to stimuli. We can train them in the same way we would work a muscle at the gym. In meditation, we stimulate those regions of the brain that make us calmer, more focused, happier.

Research also shows that meditation alters our cells at a molecular layer. This translates into, among other benefits, lower cortisol levels, better inflammatory responses, lower blood pressure, an enhanced immune system. This research is in its infancy: who knows what we will have learnt in a hundred years from now?

 

What are the most read / loved books on your bookshelf?

I recommend two meditation books: Wherever you go, there you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of bringing meditative practices to the west. His book is beautiful. Also, The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a meditation master who explains very complex ideas in amazingly simple and beautiful ways. Both books are full of soul and joy.

 

What is the most important part of mediation that you would like to convey through your teaching?

How good it is for everyone, how it can help us all have happy fulfilling lives, and how easy and simple it can be.

 

Iggy completed his 200-hour yoga teacher training with Stewart Gilchrist in 2015.

The disco ball of yoga

September 18, 2017

As I write this, I am sat in the middle of the Gobi desert, surrounded only by herdsmen, a bunch of newly acquainted strangers and some camels. It is strange to think that after all the twists and turns that life provides, that is is yoga that brought me here.

As I reach my thirties, it seems that I have had many more lives than strictly required! I started out in France, moved to Leeds to pursue contemporary dance training in conservatoire then headed to London where I performed, partied, and worked as a bartender and waitress. I landed a job in events and became an event manager for three years with a spot of DJing thrown in here and there. In this time it was yoga that kept me sane and fit, as I was no longer free to attend professional dance classes. Eventually, it became an essential daily practice and something I yearned to explore.

Maybe I could teach? Maybe even do it well? Fast forward a few years and I now teach Rocket, Jivamukti, Vinyasa and Yoga Nidra, I qualified as a barre instructor, an animal flow coach, I manage a yoga studio and run my own retreats, I am learning to play the harmonium, and am even a mentor for new teachers!

When I first chose life as a performer, I chose a difficult life, but one that would be filled with passion. After feeling a little lost for a few years, I remember my Mum saying to me: “You know, for most people, a job is just that…a job!”. I refused to admit that I could spend most of my time doing something that I did not deeply care about.

As I embarked on my first teacher training, I was confident my life would change in the direction I already loved: movement and people. I never thought it would propel me with such force into a world where every door seemed open.

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I try to be very honest about life as a yoga teacher. When people ask me about training, the conversation usually goes something like this: ‘Yes, getting the certificate is the easy bit. It doesn’t make you a good teacher… Teaching makes you a teacher”. I tell them to stick with the day job for a while, build their classes around it. It might turn out they enjoy practising but not really teaching. It might turn out that paying the mortgage/rent becomes rather complicated. It is important not to glamourize a world that can also be highly competitive somewhere like London. However, when your job fulfils you, it is a life that you would change for nothing.

I was lucky enough to get a lot of work, fast. With that came a lot of travelling. Over the years, I have refined my schedule to include less commuting, a day off, and only classes that I love (lucky me!). Some days it is hard to stand up in from of twenty people and speak (us teachers have the same ups and downs as everyone… broken hearts, grief etc), but mostly I leave class feeling energised and uplifted from the moments shared with my students. I rarely feel depleted by that energy. I love watching people discover, progress and have that Eureka moment.

In all of this, it has become clear that I have a huge thirst for learning. This has led me to travel around the world for teacher trainings, workshops and retreats. More recently, I have earned a place back at university to study osteopathy and have been plugging away at a new instrument. I have made meaningful connections across the globe with people who truly want to make a positive difference.

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A few years ago, I became an ambassador for a sportswear brand that encouraged me to dream big. It was about going beyond any barriers that I could create (money, time etc.). They encouraged me to see that anything is possible. Despite not being easy, I have truly come to believe that we can indeed all create “our best life”. Although more than once, I saw my friends and family look at each other with that “here we go again” look across their faces – but it paid off.

I am so glad I persisted, and keep on persisting. Yoga has become much more than my job. It is my practice, my passion, it’s part of my diet, it gives me a voice for what I believe is right and just, it is my community and my family away from home. It is my root, my breath and my release.

And in that all-encompassing love for what I do, I find a total joy for life, an energy that allows me to give more, be more available, embrace every moment. Whilst my life is incredibly busy, and sometimes stressful, it is all for things and people that I love, and I can therefore do it with a smile.

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As I rest my eyes on the camels in the distance, I know there was some part of the winding path that was always going to land me here, on this retreat, with my teacher, and these new friendships. Somehow, everything is just right, and I look forward to the future turns this path will surprise me with.

x
Elodie

Moving Dynamics
Instagram: @elodie_movingdynamics
http://www.movingdynamics.net

Yoga: A Functional Medicine Approach by Holly Dunn

July 14, 2017

When asked to write a blog for TPYC, I jumped at the chance to share my experiences about yoga and how this extraordinary practice has shaped and influenced my life over the past 6 years.

Motivated and inspired, my mind went into overdrive – I simply didn’t know where to start. In many ways, it is hard to extricate yourself from a practice that has become ingrained in most aspects of your life – from physicality to mentality, ethicality and emotionality.

As sensational as it may sound, there are no limits to yoga’s influence on my life (in the relatively short time period I have been lucky enough to enjoy it). My views and perceptions of the value of this ancient practice, however, have certainly evolved over time. In fact – in many ways – they have done full circle!

At the outset, an essentially physical ritual for me, I have learnt to harness some (not all!) of the cerebral benefits, and even embraced some of the more ornate and abstract philosophies. Only now am I truly beginning to understand the significance of yoga to myself as an individual, but also to the modern society in which we live.

Yoga asanas, the postures and exercises, are just one of 8 systems within an overall system of ‘Union.’ Yoga is a philosophy that describes a way to optimize a human life within these 8 interconnected and flowing sub-systems. What I find so incredible is just how relevant and remedial this remarkable tradition is becoming to our lives today. It has without a shadow of a doubt promoted personal changes and aspirations both past, present and future.

1. The Yoga Body

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It may or may not surprise you to hear it was the physicality of yoga that first tempted me to step into a yoga studio. I hated gyms and sought an antidote to the impacts of running. In my mind, yoga seemed to offer a more authentic form of body conditioning.

Hyperkinetic by nature, I was drawn to the highly dynamic and adaptive style of Power Yoga –but really this was still just another “exer-scuse” to move in a way that allowed me to sweat and ultimately re-exploit nature’s analgesics on a yoga mat!

It took some time to appreciate a few subtle shifts that were taking place and, before long, not only was I hooked, but my perception of the “yoga body” began to change.

We are the only species that have engineered mobility out of our lives – we build chairs to sit on, escalators and cars to carry our bodies, and weight machines, treadmills and rowing machines to exercise them. As a consequence, we have lost touch with some of our natural ranges and virtuosities of motion. Instead, we have replaced these with the aches and pains of chronically underused muscles, poor posture and unsupple connective tissues. Yoga restores dynamism to our bodies – strengthening, lengthening and recalibrating some of the lost art of human movement.

The more I learnt about yoga – the more I listened and practiced – the more it became apparent just how much more nourishing these movements become when they are linked to the highly potent visceral mechanism of breath or pranayama.

At a time when so-called lifestyle diseases are connected to blockages and unnatural activity in the human blood circulation system, yoga offers ways to improve circulation through the union of breath and movement – and ultimately to sustain a fully functioning human body. The asanas or postures, once they are unified with pranayama, utilise your body, your weight, inversions and twisting to drive out stale blood and wastes so that fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients can renew your cells. When the system works perfectly then the human system is self-correcting. And what is more, the energy generated, the residual buzz, “life-force” or prana is there for all to feel.

In so many more ways than I had first imagined, the definitive of the yoga body seemed to me to be: the functioning body.

2. The Yoga Mind and Spirit

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In spring 2016, I enrolled on TPYC’s Teacher Training programme under the guidance of Erin Prichard. I am hugely indebted to the experiences I gained during this time. In particular, it was a chance to deepen my knowledge of the intelligent and philosophical elements to the yoga tradition.

This time it was the ancient wisdom of the Yoga Sutras, the applicable Yamas and Niyamas (ethical codes and moral principles that govern the basis of the modern yoga tradition), that appeared to apply more acutely to modern life than I had previously thought possible.

But how and why should the philosophy be so important today? Perhaps because we are some of the most anxious and troubled guests on this planet. No other species questions why it is here and what it is trying to achieve. We have evolved a complex interaction between the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual systems – each human mind, a habit machine running a personal programme called – ego. Yoga provides a means to experience more and to suffer less. It reveals a path to becoming a much more content guest on a stunningly beautiful planet.

3. Yoga Union: A Functional Medicine Approach

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The next stage of the journey for me has really been one of integration – in the truest of yoga states – one of “yuj” or union.

Last year yoga played a major role in my professional life. It enhanced my motivation to change my existing occupation and I set out on the path to a new and exciting career.

Alongside teaching, yoga has heightened my passion for functional medicine and has given me the incentive to further studies in nutritional therapy amongst other naturopathic disciplines. The Yoga system has impelled me to ask, specifically: why is nutrition so important?

The health of our bodies and the integrity of our immune systems is directly proportional to the quality of the inputs we choose to have in our lives. Nothing highlights this quite like yoga. Over the next year, every single cell in our bodies will be made up of what we eat, drink and breathe, supplemented by some necessary sunlight. We are what we choose to consume, how we choose to move, in the environments we choose to live in. Everyday each human needs 60 minerals, 2 essential fatty acids, 16 vitamins and 12 amino acids alongside adequate hydration to maintain health. We need to breathe in oxygen and cannot survive without it for more than a few ​moments. Yoga teaches the value of purity of inputs (a principle known as Saucha) and to understand when enough is enough.

More still, yoga’s focus on treating every aspect of the individual – the whole person – is at the very heart of functional medicine. At a time when there has been an explosion in lifestyle diseases such as cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, autoimmune syndromes, obesity and diabetes – modern attitudes to human health are increasingly becoming sensitive to this vital approach.

The more I learn about the body, the more I am astounded just how much yoga, nutrition and lifestyle can do to reset the biochemical imbalances underlying these conditions. Both my continued learning and teaching are giving me the opportunity to explore the integrative sciences of yoga and nutrition in what I hope is a practical, positive and meaningful way. I consider myself so very, very fortunate to be in a position to do this.

So, whilst it may not be for me to describe the reality of yoga and its connection to human life, nutrition, exercise, contentment and philosophy – it is for you to explore, or not explore, an ancient system designed to promote human health and wellbeing. What is true for you is true for you and just for you. I can only share what is true for me and just for me.

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Yoga is ancient. Yoga is today. Yoga is timeless. Yoga is free. There are no yoga champions. But everyone who tries yoga is by definition a Yoga Champion.

Dedicated to TPYC, its remarkable Founders and wonderful Teachers that challenge and inspire me every day. Thanks for keeping it real. Thanks for keeping it safe. And above all, thanks for keeping it fun.


Preparing to Fly – arm balancing with Becky Farbstein

May 24, 2017

When many people first begin practising yoga, they are afraid of balancing on their hands or arms. However, just as we learn to stand on our feet as children, we can learn to stand on our hands as adults. One of the best things my first yoga teacher ever did for me was ask me to practice arm balances in my very first yoga class. She eliminated the fear that some students develop about these poses by introducing them as equivalent to standing postures like Tadasana and Warrior II. Like my first teacher, I believe wholeheartedly that arm balances are integral to yoga and that it is possible to make them accessible to all levels of practitioners, from true beginners to experienced yogis.

Students sometimes tell me that they don’t think they are strong enough to practise arm balances (“My wrists are going to break!”), to which I always respond that they probably already have plenty of strength to practice most arm balances; what is needed is more body awareness and an understanding of the techniques that underlie these postures. Consider this: crow (bakasana) is very similar to an upside down chair pose (utkatasana), side crow (parsva bakasana) is a lot like an an upside down twisting chair pose (parvritti utkatasana), and flying crow (galavasana) is like practising pigeon pose on chaturanga arms.

If we start to think more intelligently about arm balances, rather than immediately panicking when a teacher suggests we try these poses, we begin to unravel their enigma and they start to feel much more approachable and achievable. My upcoming workshop is designed to give yogis the tools they need to break down the fear and intimidation surrounding arm balances so that they can practice arm balances with curiosity, playfulness, and above all else, an intelligent understanding of how to move your body into these shapes.

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Arm balances have so many benefits for yoga practitioners. Like all yoga postures, arm balances increase physical strength throughout the body, particularly in the arms and the core. The workshop will introduce the ways that physical strength and energetic engagement are necessary for practising arm balances, and we will explore how to engage energy locks (“mula bandha” and “uddiyana bandha” to allow us to lift off), while also introducing preparatory drills and exercises to learn how to use the body in new ways.

However, even more importantly than brute strength, practising arm balances both demands and fosters a heightened state of focus, concentration, and awareness. Because most of us are unfamiliar with the sensations of tilting our body weight into our arms and hands, we can’t help but pay close attention as we begin to practice these poses. In this way, arm balances can provide a unique opportunity to quiet the mind chatter and help us sustain a sense of one-pointed concentration.

Above all else, arm balances can, and should, be fun. Arm balances are inherently playful (what’s more ridiculous than standing on your hands and twisting your body into funny shapes?), and they ask practitioners to approach their yoga practice with a sense of humour. Before any of us can learn to fly, we will all have a few false starts (and, if you’re anything like me, the occasional faceplant!), and this workshop will give you the tools to learn to embrace both the moments of flight and the inevitable falls along the way.

Join Becky for her workshop on Saturday, 24th June from 1:30 – 3:30, which is now available for booking. All levels welcome – beginners and more experienced yogis alike!

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Becky completed her teacher training at PYC under the guidance of Stewart Gilchrist. She has continued to seek out the best teachers across the world to train with including David Swenson and Mark Kan. She teaches physically and intellectually challenging vinyasa yoga classes that place primacy on building a steady, strong ujjayi breath. Becky has regular classes at the Power Yoga Company, learn more about her by visiting her website.

Do kids need mindfulness?

April 25, 2017

Lately the news has been full of stories about mindfulness and the Government is starting to trial mindfulness programmes as part of the curriculum in state schools. But what is ‘mindfulness’ and why do children need it?

Mindfulness is training one’s mind to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental and curious way. It develops three core skills – concentration, helping to understand one’s feelings, and sensory clarity. It has been proven to reduce stress, depression and help with emotional regulation in adults and children.

But how does it do this? Yogis have long known about the power of the breath and with mindfulness training there is an emphasis on breath awareness, co-ordinating movement with the breath and using breathing techniques to calm down and control impulses. Children are taught techniques for relaxation and getting to know their own ‘monkey mind’ and how to concentrate more effectively.

In the children’s yoga classes at TPYC there is a strong element of mindfulness in everything we do. Each class begins with breathing techniques and an emotional ‘weather check’. Breathing is co-ordinated with movement in sun salutations and other poses and children are encouraged to notice the sensations in their bodies. The interactions between students are full of kindness – competition is discouraged and students work at their own pace to put in their best effort. And finally, every class ends with a guided relaxation/ meditation where the children ‘float up in the clouds’ or ‘fly with magical birds’, for example. They leave the class very relaxed and centred.

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But classes are not the only thing you can do for your children. Practicing mindfulness at home will greatly help them and you. Take time to notice things around you – smell, see, feel, eat slowly, pay attention to the present. Sometimes less is more. Encourage your kids to notice their breathing. Any pranayama practice from class can be worked on at home – count your breaths, try to make them audible, feel your breath in your chest and tummy. And we all need more savasana time in our lives! Model self-care for your kids by sitting still or lying down for 5 minutes with some gentle music or a guided relaxation. Kids love the Calm Kids meditation CDs- great for kids struggling to sleep at night.

Make mindfulness a part of your family’s life and you will see the reward of happier, more focused and calm children.

Kids yoga classes at PYC are on Tuesdays at 4:45pm (ages 5-7) and Wednesdays at 4:45pm (ages 8-12). The all-level adult class is on at the same time in the studio below. You can sign up your kids for a full term (10 weeks) for £90.

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