Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Curling within - and a whole day of yogic-loveliness!

Are you feeling the urge to get cosy and curl inwards like nature? Yep, me too, along with a mug of vegan cocoa! This week I've been embracing that feeling. It doesn't mean we don't 'do yoga', but perhaps we feel drawn to altering our practise slightly at this time of year?

We can both honour the need to go within and the pull to get so tamasic we don't make it onto our mats. Chanting and meditation are perfect ways to combine getting under a blanket with self inquiry!

On Sunday Tim and I host our first kirtan at The Well Garden. We'll be celebrating both the masculine and feminine aspects of the divine play of life and our nature, with a mix of Shiva and Shakti chants; which are guided and require no singing expertise (I am no Deva Premal - this practise is about connecting rather than performing)!

Plus, beforehand, local teacher Hui is running a gorgeous workshop in the same space - details below - contact her asap if you wish to join as there are just a few spaces left.

And I'll hope to see you there for a mug of that cocoa and homemade vegan shortbread. Om namah shivaya : ) 

Extended Sunday Practices with Hui

14th December 2014  1:30pm - 4:30pm
11th January 2015     10am - 1pm

These 3 hour Yoga sessions will allow for an in depth look at the range of practices included within the Yoga spectrum, extending beyond just the physical Asana practices:
  • Mantra
  • Asanas (physical postures)
  • Pranayama (working with energy using the breath)
  • Meditation 
  • Yoga Nidra (guided deep relaxation / visualisation)

Cost:  £25 /  £20 if booking more than one session
Venue: The Well Garden, 17 Amhurst Terrace London E8 2BT.

Contact: hui ng sidehuis@gmail.com

Kirtan with Ali and Tim

Sunday 14th Dec 5-6pm 
Hosted by myself and local musician Tim Stone* we will share a mix of traditional shiva and shakti mantras and acoustic guitar, campfire style. Hot spiced cacao and vegan shortbread on arrival.

The ancient Bhakti practise of Kirtan involves repeated singing of names of the divine to simple, sweet melodies...Don't worry this is done as a group and guided, in 'call and response style'. Kirtan is about vibration rather than voice quality - meditation rather than performance! Supported by the group energy we set side the monkey mind and call out to pure consciousness to reconnect us with its qualities of peace and oneness. Come with an open mind and leave with a happy heart!
*Tim has been playing and making music for too many decades to mention, teaching guitar, writing music for film and the latest of his albums is an atmospheric guitar-led journey through Indian chant. 

£10 pp, come with a friend and pay £8 each 
Open to all
Includes refreshments

Venue: The Well Garden, 17 Amhurst Terrace London E8 2BT.

Contact: Ali 07855402837 piriamvadayogetc@gmail.com

Friday, 28 November 2014

gong gone weekly!

Exciting times: the monthly gong meditation is going weekly. We have a new home at The Well Garden, in Hackney Downs Studios, every Friday from 5th Dec, which happens to be the next shiny bright full moon to grace London's skyline. 

So what's the gong experience all about? 

There is nothing to do...except undo with gong. You lie in a snuggly shavasana for an hour enjoying sound "bath" (literally like bathing in an ocean of gong, singing bowls and natural sounds).  

Sometimes sounding like a UFO crashing into the core of the earth; at times industrial; other sounds coming as if from the depth of the ocean, the gong leads us like an AUM-ing pied piper into states of healing and bliss that our everyday rational mind clouds. Many people who 'can't do meditation' get a little window into its world. 

It can be a powerful cleansing experience, washing away physical, energetic and mental stuck-ness. 

I really don't want to say more... expect come and experience it, without any expectations, but maybe a little bit of background is useful. 

The beauty of the gong sound is one thing (gong legend Don Conreaux believes it takes less than a minute to hook ANY listener), but the vibration does the inner work - and for long after the mallets are hung up - shaking through the spaces and watery contents of our body. The brain is also re-patterned - its left side gives up, the right blooms; alpha waves slow and harmonise to states akin to deep sleep or trance. Scientists are even showing the effect of sound work on DNA structure. The possibilities are endless with sound, it seems like we are rediscovering the power of vibration which is so primordial and so essential to our daily sensory lives. 

My first experience of gong was with a sound healer friend and it blew my mind, a few months later he had me playing and the collecting of these mysterious instruments began. Gong originated in Persia over 3500 years ago and has been used in Tibet and China for ceremony and healing for centuries. Like a singing bowl they are crafted from a special alloy of metals - the modern day gong meditation phenomena is largely due to master cymbal maker Paiste who cottoned onto the healing effects of gong and started making ranges based on the planets and elements, plus the orchestral sounding symphonics. 

It can be a mystical and magical experience playing or receiving gong. Or it can bring you a few moments peace in a stressful time. No one experience is better or more special than anothers'. No matter how we look on the outside or feel inside, gong is a leveller - eyes closed, all laying on our backs there is no comparison or competition (which can creep up in even the most practised yogi right?). 

Gong affects us on many levels depending what we need at the time. It is the gong that is the energy channel rather than the player, a fact confirmed by gong teacher and author Sheila Whitaker to me on a training weekend (2 incredible days of either gonging or being gonged). We step aside from ego and it's notions of technique and just play what's needed for the group energy presenting itself. Gong is perhaps the most powerful instrument for sound work as it offers so many different overtones that a broad range people's needs can be accessed in one session. 

Speaking to my own experience, gong connects me to my intuition. It also connects me to simplicity and love, where sometimes I can get carried away with this philosophy and that, to endless wondering and watching my self (this is obviously key but sometimes we just need to say less and hug more people). It makes me feel grounded and expanded all at once, but has also helped me release physical blocks. And sometimes we need tangible proof. It's not like teacher or healer emerges from the gong to provide the answers, simply that following it's merry journey strips back my layers, thoughts and defences so much that I can experience that all are within. 

Gong meditation 
Every Friday 7.30pm
£10 in advance by paypal or BACS (email me for details)/ £12 on the night
The Well Garden 

The Village Green 
Hackney Downs Studios 
17 Amhurst Terrace 

From the beaches of southern portugal, back to hackney this full moon. OM : ) 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Santosha and 4 day professional course for ED

As you know I've been working on a programme for yoga and disordered eating. Returning home from India today I was thinking about the fact that in the days of patanjali and the ancient rishis eating disorders would not have existed as one of the afflicted states of mind. Food was probably pretty scarce and in India, even largely today, food is seen as a celebration of life with daily offerings, prasad and feasting making it part of religious and spiritual Life. Ok the Diwali sweets are not exactly the healthiest, but they are consumed in a social and sparing way. 

Coming to India was a big turning point for me in realising it was ok to admit to enjoying food, that it didn't mean I was greedy to tuck into a good old plateful; delighting in the sensory experience of a thali and actually laughing at my Imperfect self dribbling pani puri filling down my chin. I am very lucky to come here and be able to afford to eat well while others do not, and that is a strong reminder to be grateful, with perspective. 

Anyway I wanted to share some of the ways we (dr Sam Bottril and I) have been pairing up patanjalis ancient yogic thinking (the yamas and niyamas) with the modern issue of eating behaviour, through 8 week courses, each week following a theme with home practise tips and discussions...

I'll be supporting Sam and the Minded Institute on a 4 day professional training coming up end nov - this is for anyone interested in incorporating yoga into their therapeutic work with disordered eating or yoga teachers looking to expand their knowledge of the evidence, research, techniques etc out there. Details here 

Santosha – Contentment  

"From contentment comes supreme joy' rishi patanjali 

Each one of us sees life differently, through our own 'veil' of experience and conditioning. The struggle to meet expectations keeps us unhappy; looking to change ourselves, looking for new experiences that will make everything better. Expectations come from both within and outside but often we are the only ones seeking perfection in ourselves. Either way, we are the only one who is responsible for striving toward these expectations. When we step onto the mat we might be full of expectations – to achieve the 'perfect' back-bend today, to move faster than our neighbour through that last sun salutation, for the teacher to gives us the exact class that we crave, never mind the needs of the lesser able students around us.

We may have these same expectations in front of the mirror. Every day our body is different. In a world of homogenised food, harsh media criticism and monotonous jobs this is not what we signed up for. But we do not criticize the moon for its cycle – we watch with fascination at its changing shape and often celebrate its fullness and leave it to do its natural thing for the remaining 27 days. In a world which is constantly evolving why do we, part of nature, expect to freeze ourselves in youth, thin-ness or super-fitness?

Back on the yoga mat... there will be some practices you can do with ease and others that will be a challenge. As in life, we gravitate to those in which we look good or come with feelings of pleasure. Often the postures which make us feel challenged, angry or damned ungainly are the ones we need to be doing! Each obstacle is a teacher. Your neighbour will be going through a whole different set of attachments and aversions. Where would be the incentive to practice if it was all easy? Yes yoga allows us to change the way we look and feel but at the same time it alters our perception of what this should be. I often like to start my practice by banning the very word 'should' and noticing each time a thought begins with it.

Sometimes we get a little peek beyond the veils, that who we are is just fine. The longer or deeply we practice the more often we get a glimpse of santosha. I remember in India looking down at my feet one day and seeing them as just perfect – I mean really loving my feet. My nail polish was chipped, my toes were sandy and just as stringy as ever but I loved them just as they were in that moment. All I'd been doing was my daily practice with dedication: when you let it, supreme joy arises from contentment.

Contentment doesn't mean being ecstatically happy all the time - ups and downs are part of who we are. But as Patanjali outlines, it is the battle against how things really are that keeps us from contentment. Practicing teaches us to observe everything - sadness, happiness, good and bad times...and through all of these to stay with our true self.

If we cannot possibly be content until we look just like the yogi(ni) next to us, we are missing the magical changes that are occurring moment to moment, breath to breath. Even if we achieve his/ her look there will be another goal post to strive for. It is changing the perception (not obtaining a new yoga style/ body/ bag/ relationship/ title) that is transformational.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference”
Serenity prayer. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Healthy body, balanced mind, happy eating starts 9th Sept

An 8 week yoga program designed for those who wish to develop a healthier relationship between their self, body and eating. 

Who’s this course for?

Perhaps you are currently experiencing an eating disorder, perhaps you have had issues in the past, or perhaps you just recognise that your eating patterns vary with your emotions, and you wish to understand this better...

In this 8 week course you will:

- Explore the relationship between body, mind and food
- Better understand yourself and your patterns of behaviour
- Begin to develop a kinder relationship with your body and self
- Learn yoga techniques that you can apply in everyday life to navigate stressful situations
- Use your yoga practice to support your ongoing wellbeing, eg digestion and breathing
- Balance and boost your energy levels
- Have fun and find support with likeminded people experiencing similar challenges!

The course leaders:

Dr Sam Bottrill is a qualified yoga teacher (Yoga Alliance accredited), Yoga Therapist for Mental Health and Senior Clinical Psychologist specialising in Eating Disorders at the Maudsley Hospital. She lectures and supervises on the Minded Institute professional training and runs Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8-week courses in North and Central London.

Piriamvada (Ali) is an advanced Akhanda yoga teacher, teacher trainer and yogic lifestyle coach who applies ancient yogic wisdom and techniques to the issues of modern living.

Each brings personal experience of yoga as a basis for recovery.

How to book:

Please contact Ali on 07855402837 or email piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com
See our website

This is a progressive course, running for 8 weeks with a one week break, finishing 4th Nov. Block booking is required, drop in not available.

£80 (concessions available)
Mats and all equipment are provided. Beginners welcome.

Inspired and affiliated with Minded Yoga:

Minded Yoga Therapy is inspired by yoga, mindfulness, neuroscientific understanding, and psychotherapeutic principles to effectively blend ancient mind-body practices with modern scientific insight. See their website

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

River bank news...find a balance

In summer living on the canal really comes into its own: watching daily the changes in the under-waterscape, the crazy lettuce-like weeds and frisky dragonflies; picking brambles and, of course, being outdoors every second possible (including teaching yoga!). Above the waterline Hackney Wick and Bow have lately come alive with cafes, arts and new flats.

Through towpath connections I stumbled upon The Riverbank Project, a warehouse space with a permaculture garden, overlooking the Olympics near Old Ford Lock. This diverse space will be used for shoots and launches but on Mondays it dedicates itself to well-being, through a series of yoga classes and workshops called 'Find a balance'. So as well as practising Akhanda with me each week you can learn how to juice for better health, use martial arts for meditation, how to create with keffir and kombucha... and more. Yoga & workshops are just £17 for the introductory month!

We start on 28th July with a free taster yoga class (pre booking only) then on 4th Aug its a whole evening of yoga and gong.

Here's the info on the rest - pre booking essential here

Monday, 21 July 2014

And...Exhale...the festival - Aug 2014

This is going to be so much fun...and affordable - only 300 tickets available so book now. I'll be there with the gongs, plus teaching kundalini and guiding morning meditation. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

First steps into yoga...new 8 week beginners course

oasis leisure centre (and me) are offering an exciting new 8 week yoga programme open to members and newcomers to the centre. 

Suitable for yoga newcomers who wish to learn the fundamentals in detail, in a small group setting, with one to one attention. 

You will learn various asanas (postures) which correct posture, strengthen the body and increase flexibility. We will focus on correct breathing, linking breath with movement for a lighter and flowing practise and how breathing can boost and balance our energy levels. There will be techniques to still the mind and reduce the impact of stress and discussion on incorporating the benefits of yoga into your everyday life. 

Starts Monday 2nd June
At oasis, endell st covent garden
6.15-7.15pm weekly 
Pre-booking is essential and must be done through the centre

Coming soon...'next steps' course for intermediate level!