Friday, July 6, 2012

Lesson to be learnt

Sri BKS Iyengar

Dear students & friends, 
I went to an Iyengar class this morning. 
Iyengar is a lineage of yoga parallel to Astanga that comes straight from founder of modern yoga system Sri Krishnamacharya. 

This practice is famous for precision and perfection of alignment. Asanas are held for longer periods of time than in Astanga and use of props is extensive. Simply saying, there is no pose you can do without at least a belt or a blanket. Bolsters, mats of varied thickness, different blocks, bricks, chairs, even tables (as I learned today for halasana), bandage (instead of eye pillows) and of course a must have in Iyengar yoga studio ropes and hooks. (Those last ones I always feared as they look a bit like a wall of torture...) They are all great props if used reasonably with good guidance and tuition. And this is what I want to write about today.

After qualifying as a yoga teacher I took an oath. It clearly states I should follow the ethics of yoga which also means not saying or doing any wrong to other fellow teachers.
But there are things that have to be said. So what I did is I wrote the letter to Yoga West owners:

Hello Diana and Mike,
I came to your Intermediate 2 class this morning. 
As you know I am not an Iyengar teacher myself but I just wanted some challenge and variety. I came open minded and compassionate. But as it turned out it was not for me. It is a horrible thing to complain and I never do that. If I don't like a class, I just don't come back, but this time I think you should know that the teacher you employ and who speaks for the whole school was just not right. 
I think yoga is a practice of compassion as well as linage. It was quite an experience of what not to say to your students in a class and of what not to do. I learned a lot from this and I certainly benefited on that level. 
In the end I just had to laugh it out. Goodness me who is Kirsten to be so rude and impolite to others! There was just a stick missing in her hand or a whip to punish my body for unorthodox behaviour.  Medieval times!
Cheers to all Iyengar teachers putting up with this on regular basis.
Blessings to you,

So if you ever go to ANY yoga class, and you come across one of these:

  • "What is your level of practice and why are you here?" (err I do not practice Iyengar and I came to learn from you Missus).
  • "Look at her, everybody, this is how you shouldn't do that!" ( I always like to be an example to others).
  • "Don't do this pose, just lie down" (But I am well able to do it and I want to experience it! I am well aware of my body abilities).
  • "Do not cover yourself with this blanket, you didn't come here for a nap" (In savasana - the room was cold and I wasn't wearing much, and there were two relaxations each about 10 min. Isn't that a torture?)
  • "If you have an injury you shouldn't come to this class" (well I do not have an injury, sometimes my back just hurts).
  • "Do you have a cold or what?" (No I actually have a hay fever, sorry about that).
...Then just change a class. Or complain.
Oh, and if a teacher wears these just get suspicious:

Also I have discovered that it is the heart that you put into your teaching and not the age or experience that makes you great teacher. How much more I enjoy teachings of young passionate teachers who are miles away down on the ladder of "yoga success". "Teach from the heart and you can't go wrong" my teacher said. And she wasn't wrong. Thank you Teresa.
Good luck with your practice, enjoy it - it is all about what feels right. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Challenges, ambition and competition in yoga

Śri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

Yoga is not competitive! However how hard it is to resist temptation.

Practicing in a room full of advanced students can affect an intermediate or beginner practitioner on many levels. On a positive side there will be motivation and yes-this-is-possible aspect. On the other hand, a person who practices with people on much higher level can feel down, rejected, find themselves losing self esteem and finally quitting the class. Sticking to continue the practice is important, as once you quit it is so hard to go back.

If that is your case, I would definitely advise to stay centred, moving your awareness inwards, see how you feel in a pose or in an attempt at a pose. Remember this is your practice and you are benefiting from it as much as the person next to you. See how week after week you can go further into a pose and watch your body accepting it. See if you are discovering new sensations in asana you have already done so many times. Rediscovery is one of the milestones in your practice.
Never compare yourselves to others. Everybody is different and it is all a personal and very private experience.
Focus on your breathing, listen to other people breathing and let their breath remind you of your own. It is such a blessing to practice in a group! Use the energy in the room, the vibrations created by the yoga flow for your own benefit. Have you ever noticed how different the room feels before and after the class? It is like in a sage smudged house, isn't it?
By all means: watch and enjoy your progress, do not control it and see what happens next...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Karna (कर्ण, Karṇa) = ear
Pida (पीड, Pīḍa) = pressure
Asana (आसन, Āsana) = pose, posture, seat
Karna Pidasana (कर्णपीडासन, Karṇa-Pīḍāsana) = ear-pressure-pose

Always enter this pose from Halasana. Exhale as you lower your knees toward the floor close to ears. Keep your arm straight, your palms facing the floor. If it is too much to take your knees all the way down to the floor you can partially lower them keeping your lower back supported with your hands. Remain here for 15-25 breaths. If your knees reach the floor you can play with the pressure on your ears. Never force your knees down, also make sure that there is not too much pressure on your neck. If your breath comes restricted  back off until you can fully breathe without strain. Gaze is at the tip of your nose.
This is a soothing fetal position that offers deeper spinal flexion and a more intense stretch of the hips. This also lends a great internal abdominal massage to the organs.
Calms the brain. Stretches the shoulders and spine. Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause. Reduces stress and fatigue.Therapeutic for backache, earache, headache, infertility, insomnia, sinusitis.

It also stimulates the internal abdominal organs (helping aid digestion), thyroid, and prostate glands.This pose tones the thighs, buttocks, and hips while stretching the shoulders and neck.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

setting an intention

Chenrezig - Buddha of Compassion

For a very long time I struggled with understanding what does setting an intention means. Some teachers always encourage students to do it at the beginning of class and some do it at the end. 
I always thought about it as an abstract. What does it mean and how do I approach it? What is an intention? Is it global or personal, is it what I wish for, or is it what I long for?
Just recently I understood what it really means and how my own practice can affect the world. 
Lets start with yoga then. Yoga isn't a prayer. So why would we practice with the intention of let's say world's well being? Well, the answer is simple. As you practice you change yourself into a better person. Just watch  what you think before the class and after. See how your mind quietens down how you become relaxed after being restless. How peaceful and at ease you are. This is what affects the world on our little community level. If we all just did more yoga how much better would our and others life be!
A conscious decision of dedicating practice towards something positive creates an opportunity to push through toughest asanas a lot easier. Also, reflecting on real life challenges, yoga prepares you to deal with them as you have motivating powers behind your actions.

So please keep it in mind while rolling your mat out.

What could your intention be? No idea, here I can give you some of mine: 

  • To create more space in my own life.
  • To focus on doing what matters.
  • To be compassionate.
  • To change the world for the better.
  • To share yoga blessings with as many as possible.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a little bit about mats


Yesterday I have noticed that not many students own a mat. A mat is very important for your practice - it helps to make yoga a part of your routine, it's also good to own one for hygienic reason. A good mat is thick and cushions your back if you are rolling on it. It protects your joints and prevents slipping. The market is full of cheap mats. However be careful when choosing one. Most of them will not last one year flaking to pieces - just a thought about the amount of irrecyclable waste gives me creeps. 

So first thing when you are choosing your mat would be sustainability, durability and quality. There are two very good brands that I have tested and that work really well. One is Jade and the other is Manduka. However brilliant, they are they are all over £45.

I have tried many mats and found my perfect mat that will last a lifetime. Although not everyone is ready to spend £80. It is the Rolls Royce of yoga mats, by far the best quality mat you'll find... This mat is great for studio practice as it is heavy - over 3.5kg - so carrying it around on your shoulder may get you an injury! I would rather go for eco lite version or travel mat if I were not practicing so seriously.

Anyway, give it a thought, and if you want me to help with buying your mat (as I can get wholesale discounts) just drop me a word.

Will see you all next Tuesday. Keep practicing!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

business cards

I ordered them with, they are arriving 8th of June!