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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Stop, take a breath and listen. Three innate behaviours but ones that many of us find hard to do in the modern world. We have taught ourselves to find comfort in the discomfort, causing our breath to become modified and restricted. Yet, by changing the way we breathe and tuning into the feeling of slowing down, we can return to our natural state of being and reap significant benefits along the way. This workshop will take you on a journey of self-discovery. It is time to give yourself a little love.
For two hours we will explore ways to let go and create space through the practice of Satya (truth) – “am I being true to myself in my practice?” and Ahimsa (non-harming) – “am I listening to my body?”. Following these steps will help us to get deeper into our practice and truly tune into our body and breath. In our yoga practice, we focus on moving our bodies in non-harming ways, except our personal limitations and look after ourselves. But how often do we practice this off the mat?
I went on my personal journey into the breath a year ago in Bali. At the time I was lacking in confidence and, well, self-love. At the beginning of the breath workshop I was a little shy, scared others would judge me and worried that I would fail. It took an immersion of dance, music, connection and breath, to help me realise that those negative thoughts were holding me back from my true potential and that I am pretty amazing – and, most importantly, that I should celebrate these feelings, not hold them in. For the first time ever I thanked and congratulated myself, for letting go, being free and for not letting others’ opinions and views affect me.
I recently returned to Bali to take part in a five-day breath work training called The Journey of Self-love. In the Power of the Breath workshop, I will share these experiences as well as other elements that have helped me to slow down and tune in like yoga and meditation.
The first half of the workshop will offer a heart opening asana practice, where we will focus on opening the chest and upper back to create space and softness. With our hearts open and bodies warm we will move towards the theme of connection. Connecting with others and sharing can help us to fully let go and open up both to ourselves and others, which can be a real challenge for many of us. We will then transition to a meditation practice and, finally, a deep savasana. This experience will be enhanced by music, which has been shown to assist us with the process of complete surrender.
Join Frankie on September 3rd for a two-hour workshop that will help you to let go and celebrate the bodies we live in. Frankie teaches a strong dynamic flow at the PYC on Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons.
Sound wizard Leo Consendai returns to the PYC for two workshops. Below he unravels the mystery of ‘sound massage’ by explaining how bathing yourself in a vibrational bath of sound and frequency can heal your body and your mind.
Were you an instant gong bath convert or has it been a gradual process?
I fall into the category of an instant convert, however, I have had both confusing and frustrating experiences. A gong bath is a very strong practice that involves other limbs or facets of yoga and it is far more challenging mentally than the physical practice of asanas, also known as postures. Your state of awareness is greatly heightened and your senses are drawn inward. Those sounds you hear are not meant to entertain, in fact, it is rather the opposite. The music comes from outside but its unconventional format confuses the brain and thus promotes a total inner awareness. That state is very healing in the sense that you suddenly become acutely aware of everything that has been suppressed and stored in your subconscious, but the downside is that you come face to face with that stuff, sometimes unprepared. A lot depends on the practitioner. It is so important that people who are giving gong baths should first play for themselves and then train to play for others. Anyone can buy a microphone, but can they sing?
Will you explain a little about the science of a gong bath and how it works?
Gongs produce hundred and hundreds of what we call harmonic and dissonant tones. The difference in frequency (Hz) between them is so small that they generate binaural beats. Those beats stimulate the brain to produce theta and delta waves (0.2 Hz-10Hz), which are recognised brainwave states that we can enter during deep sleep or trance. Prolonged exposure to gong tones also refocuses the brain activity in the frontal lobes, which is the “seat” of imagination or creation. Some people in America have been studying their effects on the blood, and it seems to be clearing out a lot of the bacterial debris and also aiding in reshaping the red blood cells. I believe a lot is achieved through a well-led session and I am currently trying to arrange some test studies with a couple of universities in Switzerland.
How does a gong bath relate to yoga?
Prana Kriya Yoga harmonises and unites the flow of the physical movement in our bodies (kriya) with its energetic power, helping you become aware of your creative potential. This form of yoga is one of the most effective means by which to achieve your goals and aspirations – material, emotional and spiritual – and bring your actions in line with your mental and emotional state. Prana Kriya Yoga has also long been highly regarded among many great masters and yogis as the key to slowing down the ageing process. It achieves this by recharging the blood with oxygen and decarbonising it, which rejuvenates the brain and spinal centres and prevents the decay of tissues in the body. It awakens the hidden energy (kundalini) within you allowing you to transform and free yourself from limiting beliefs and old behavioural patterns that hold you back.
Bathe yourself in two hours of healing sound and vibration during Leo’s workshops on July 9th and October 15th, which are now open for booking.
In A Mahayana Training of the Mind, Yogi Dharmaraksita states “In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks. The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant but thrive on the essence of poisonous plants”. Instead of being poisoned, the toxins are transformed into a beautiful and vibrant plumage. Just like the peacock, we can take challenging situations and through grace, love,and compassion transform them into a thing of beauty.
For some yogis, inversions can cause uncertainty and fear but once we overcome these barriers and focus on the elements required (inner strength, stability, and openness) – we can start to explore this exciting part of the practice.
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock pose) – a.k.a. Forearm Stand, is a fun and exciting inversion to learn! I have decided to dedicate a whole session to this pose because it is one of my favourites, and I think that it could be one of yours too.
In this workshop, I will break the pose down into smaller, more approachable pieces and provide explanations on how to keep safe along the way. This will build both strength and confidence. We will also work at opening the shoulders and the hamstrings, which will allow us to transition from dolphin pose to beautiful feathered peacocks. Once you take flight, we will explore variations.
Sometimes students have questions and want to learn more about technique and that is what makes workshops so successful and rewarding! We will have time to explore your body’s unique strengths and limitations and how to work with both to get into the pose. Because the Feathered Peacock pose and Dolphin pose (and all the prep in between) are foundation poses for headstands – you may learn more than just a pose and start to understand some of the key concepts of inversions.
All levels are welcome to this workshop. Be prepared to work hard, have a good laugh with your fellow students and, most importantly, allow compassion to transform your fear into beauty.
Caroline’s workshop is on July 2nd from 1:30 – 3:30pm, and is now open for booking.
Caroline’s yoga journey began seven years ago in the Canadian ski resort town of Whistler where she took her first yoga class. She has since gone on to study Power Vinyasa in Australia, anatomy with Tiffany Cruikshank, Yin yoga with The Yoga People and practises with Stewart Gilchrist and Mark Kan in London. Caroline’s style of teaching is both challenging and fun. Find her at the PYC on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. carolinepegnayoga.com