Showing posts with label hackney yoga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hackney yoga. Show all posts

Monday, 6 April 2015

'Dig a hole for your pond without waiting for the moon. When the pond is finished the moon will come by itself'...

These words by Dogen Kenji just sum up the practise of yin yoga for me. Recently I was lucky enough to take a yin yoga training with Gayatri Gayle Poapst a Canadian anatomy and yoga teacher who trained with Sarah Powers, one of yin's pioneers.

Yin, also known as Taoist yoga, is all about resistance and surrender. We surrender the to the pose, we surrender the mind's resistance into breath or mantra, we surrender (rather than resist) what is right now. We wait. This might sound unpalatable, especially for us pitta types! Yet, as is often the case, what we 'dislike' can often be just what we need - a welcome release in a world of striving and flitting.

The environment many of us live, work and play in is YANG. To keep up with it we eat, move, think in a very yang way. And why not? No one wants to be seen to slow down, step back, ' lose their edge' - right (including, perhaps, on the mat)? As nature around us plays out as a balance of yin and yang, so do we require both the 'sunny and shady sides of the mountain' to be healthy and whole. Yin and yang exist together, within one another, within each of us.

Coming home from the first day of training, via the buzz and tension of the tube, I cycled down the river feeling the shivers of chi in my body. I looked at the reflection of the full moon in the water and thought: this is what yin yoga brings to the mat (and this is what london needs more of!).

Why yin?

Yin and the physical body

When we move in and out of asana in dynamic or 'yang' practise we rarely hold a pose longer than 1 minute and even where we do we are engaging, activating and generally working against gravity, which both stretches muscles and strengthens them. This is great and totally necessary, but doesn't scratch the surface of the structures which connect bones, joints and muscles. It takes over 3 mins to stretch out these ligaments, tendons and fascia - with a like-attracts-like approach, ie holding for a long time in a relaxed way...a yin approach to yin tissues.

Lines of fascia connect the body from head to toe and spiralling within, for example from the psoas through the diaphragm to the tongue. The body is interconnected by its web and wherever we tense or tug a strand we affect seemingly unconnected regions. A microcosm of the universe itself. Imagine how as we spend hours at the laptop, forehead tensed, this ripples through the body.

As for the joints, as we age they become drier, more vata - yin practise keeps them lubricated and infused with prana.

Yin in balance

Fascia gives us our shape and sometimes even yoga practise doesn't seem to be shifting that whole body stiffness we come up against at certain times of life or circumstance. So try yin... But don't give up your yang practise just yet! The two balance each other. Yin may make our yang praise more open and flexible but yang does a vital job of strengthening and stabilising our joints to complement their openness.

As someone drawn to contemplative practise I absolutely savour yin but with high mobility I recognize the absolute need to keep on strengthening. Actually it's an interesting practise for 'bendy ones' as we can often flop easily into a (physically) deep expression of a pose without much to challenge our awareness - as yin focuses on sensation we may have to step back to find it, and focus even deeper to be sure we are safe.

Yin versus restorative

Although both may use multiple props, restorative yoga is more designed to release the body into support and comfort, ideal for recovery from illness or injury, with yin more aligned to exploring our edges of comfort and going beyond the body into the deeper Koshas.

If anyone tells you either style of yoga is the 'easy option' I invite them to spend 10 minutes in dragon!!

Yin and the energy body

Many of us groan at the idea of hip openers as we know that not only our stiffness is highlighted. The hips, land of the swadisthana chakra, stir up emotions and here in yin we are holding them for an, at first, excruciating 3/5/10 or more minutes (yes, each side!). Fascia it seems is the gateway to the meridians or Nadis and the chakras and provides access to stored emotions and tendencies.

Chinese medicine and yogic anatomy overlap in mapping out how our organs, glands and nervous system are supplied with the subtle force which makes them tick. Lines of chi or prana move through water rich channels, governing our state of health. This chi must move (yang practise) but also be replenished (yin).

Of course the breath is the vehicle of prana and the stillness of the poses offers us a real opportunity to study, feel and guide the breath.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness tunes us into how we feel through the messages of sensations - the body whispering, talking and eventually shouting at us for what we need. Yoga practised with a desire for the body to be different and a list of shoulds and musts can reinforce our disconnection.

Once we find our comfortable edge in a yin pose we commit to stillness, breathe and observe. W
e 'dig our pond' and we wait!..becoming the witness. This, of course, is easier said than done, but hugely rewarding (as the tons of mindfulness research that have emerged in recent years reflects) in life off the mat. The poses increase the potential for us to feel our body while coming back to the witness challenges the egos grip on our consciousness as we stay, in stillness, and drop through the body into deeper layers of mind.

Yin and meditation

'Yogas chitta vritti nirodah' yoga is stilling the fluctuations of consciousness (patanjali)

How many of us stay still for more then 5 minutes in the waking day without distracting ourselves in some way - book, iPhone, TV, conversation etc etc?. Amazing how we think 'I just want to be still and quiet yet' when that is offered we will do anything we can to escape it, to wriggle away from the discomfort of what appears in the space or just the space itself - the mind throwing us resistance in the form of itches and excuses - 'I don't need this', 'how boring' etc.

In yin, after establishing ourselves as the witness, we are in a ripe space to face the underlying patterns which everyday life allows us to dodge. Being still and quiet is not about swinging from a rajasic mind to a dull one - we face it's ripples and let them go, often adding the positive vibration of mantra or brahmaree breath (or welcoming in the luscious tones of gong).

Yin is meditation in partial motion itself but if you find the act of sitting tricky it will also give you some much needed openess in the hips to fold into that 'steady comfortable seat'... And all that unfolds from there.

I start a weekly yin class every Thursday 6.30pm at the well garden from April 9th
As yin works along the same meridian lines as gong I invite you to try them both together for some powerful release and rejuvenation...
6.30pm - 8.30pm, £16/18




soma - a one day spring workshop - right here in hackney

Happy spring time! An idea that really resonates with me is Ayurveda's balance between agni and soma, on a deeper, inner level, the forces of sun and moon, purification and rejuvenation. 

So, the seasonal retreat this spring at the well garden is all about the moon-like, blissful nectar of soma. Celebration rather than detoxification! 

Here are the details...

Soma - flowing with the joy of life 

Revive, get in shape, laugh, love, share & learn.

Ready to come out of hibernation and unfurl the body into Spring? As the days lighten we prepare to bring ideas to fruition and embrace personal growth. We continue with a series of one day retreats to inspire you through the transitions and challenges of the seasons.

Water symbolises the flow of life, rejuvenating and adaptable; soma the stream of inner bliss. Harnessing these energies in our yoga practise, we can expand into a more joyful way of being - with our body, self and the world.

Join me, Piriamvada/ Ali, for a day in the life of an ashram retreat right here in Hackney. Workshop includes two yoga asana practises, pranayama, mantra and meditation. Morning yoga, dynamic but nurturing, will get the body and prana flowing. In the afternoon we explore deeper layers of body and mind through the stillness of yin yoga, mantra and breath-work. Guided meditation, time spent in nature and an optional evening kirtan bring us towards blissful harmony.

Lunch will be picnic-style (outdoors if we're lucky!) so please bring a vegetarian/ vegan dish or some bits and pieces to share. Snacks, water and herbal teas will be provided throughout the day.

Saturday 16th May 9.30am-5.30pm
Optional kirtan (guided devotional chanting with acoustic music) 6pm-7pm

The Well Garden, Hackney Downs Studios, 3-17 Amhurst Terrace, Hackney, London E82BT

Cost £60 per person or £50 early bird (book and pay via paypal to alipretc@gmail.com before 2nd April)
Kirtan £8 for retreat attendees, £10 drop in
Please bring a vegetarian/ vegan dish or a few bits to share during lunch

Suitable all levels, all yoga equipment provided
Contact me to pre-book and receive full programme piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com/ 07855402837



Saturday, 27 December 2014

Next 8 week course - yoga for disordered eating - STARTS 27TH JAN (AMENDED DATE)

New year is full of pressure to make food or body related resolutions: after the encouragement from family, supermarkets, cooking programmes etc to indulge as much as we humanly can, suddenly gyms and magazines are shouting at us to lose the christmas pounds, the beach body being just a few issues around the corner; and, of course, there are celebs everywhere showing us how easily it can be done (easy with the help of an airbrush or 5). 

We can't avoid the pressures we face around food and body image. But we can strengthen our own emotional resilience to the impressions they leave on our minds. And deepen our connection with what the body actually needs or what the bodies signals might be telling us about our deeper emotional needs. Because its not just about the food. One of the discoveries of modern science is that people with stronger 'interoception' (awareness of body sensations) are more able to understand their minds. 'Well obviously' the yogis would have said - the body and mind are mere expressions of the same thing and cannot be squashed into separate boxes. 

Eating disorders affect our body, our mind and our self therefore many people find that just talking is not enough or perhaps exercise helps a little but there is something more... As an integral body mind self practise, more and more of us are finding that yoga can really help in recovery from an eating disorder.

Healthy body, balanced mind, happy eating starts 27th Jan
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…

What does it entail?

The course incorporates body-mind-self practises - bringing together ancient yogic wisdom, mindfulness and modern scientific research. Each session includes movement, breath-work, guided relaxation, meditation and chanting; followed by discussion and supported by home practise materials.

In this 8 week course you will:

- Explore the relationship between body, mind and food
- Develop mindfulness of the body, its sensations and needs
- Better understand 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, e.g. support digestion and calm nervous system
- Balance and boost your energy levels
- Have fun and find support with likeminded people experiencing similar challenges!

Course schedule:

Starts Tues 27th Jan 2015
Runs weekly every Tuesday 7.15-9pm
Final week 17th March

Venue:

Betty Brunker Hall
Gambier House
Mora Street
EC1V 8EH
Angel/ Old Street tubes, Shoreditch High St/ Hoxton O'ground

How to book:

Pre booking only
Please contact Ali on 07855402837 or email piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com
£100 (concessions available)
Mats and all equipment are provided. Beginners welcome.
See www.embodiedmind.co.uk

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.

Inspired by 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. Seewww.themindedinstitute.com

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. 

Cost: 
£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



Tuesday, 18 June 2013

green space & moving with grace


Do you feel graceful?
It doesn't matter if you are naturally coordinated (or not), have rhythm, learned dance as a kid - with Yoga your entire body can become full of grace.

I have recently remembered all over again my respect for Asana. It started in India, with hearing what my practise looks like from the outside and has continued into the last few weeks out of London in the Lee Valley, discovering new green spaces for sunrise practise and solitude. 

Sometimes we feel as our practise develops that we are leaving things behind; the urge to sit and meditate becomes more important than the urge to twist, invert or stretch. And that would follow the natural progression of our traditional 8 limbs. But like the limbs of a person, the Yoga path is not always linear - you don't master walking and then forget how to use your arms - instead things start to sync together and create an intuitive dance.

Obsessing over the physical body can stop us going into its deeper layers, but loving it is a way of celebrating what we have discovered in/ out there on a more solid level. And sharing this with the world - the sense of connection with 20 other people in a room following Surya Namaskar needs no words. Being a teacher puts me in a lucky position to observe a roomful of people following the same sequence but each expressing it differently, working around their own unique make-up.

I used to feel a bit embarrassed and uneasy about people watching me practise in public spaces - will they think I am showing off – and, in fact, am I a Yoga exhibitionist? But that's only their perception, or my inhibitions talking. It truly feels like singing my happiness at the top of my voice. And when we do either, it might make others wonder.

For me its all about the intention that we bring to the postures; there is a possibility to treat every movement of the body as sacred in the same way as every moment of a puja or a meditation can be. Moving our bodies into shapes inspired by nature, animals or ancient sages can totally transport us from the churning of our minds into a more simple place, that reflects these origins.

The phrase 'my body is a temple' has become a bit of a cliche but, after many years of being deeply unhappy with the way I looked, Asana brought me to this experience, and made me think before punishing it. Its not about how how shiny and perfect are the outer walls of a temple, but what we are in it to do...but we can still admire its beauty and tend to it, with devotion.

Talking of outdoor Yoga, details of a new Hackney weekend class on the grass to follow soon – yippee! 


the cheshunt studio
stansted abbots shala

by Ali Gunning (Piriamvada Yoga) – I teach Akhanda and Classical Kundalini Yoga in East & North London. Home is on the waterways with my narrow boat Bokissa.