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

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The exciting news...

Oh yes, its been a long and fun process to bring this special retreat together...and bookings are now open (early birds save £75!). 

Myself and the Well Garden are hosting a feast of yoga, sound and creativity in the Goan jungle this coming Feb...and you of course are invited! 10 days of dynamic yoga, yin yoga, sacred art workshops, sound baths, sweat lodges, fire chanting, nourishing food, naturopathy and Ayurveda. 

We dive into the elements around and within over the course of 10 days. Our home will be the divine Khaama Kethna near Agonda in South India.  



Come on in...See my India retreats page for all the info! 





Thursday, 16 June 2016

What I learned from my students today...

Your teachers will tell you how to put poses together, what they do for the mind body; but your students will show you what it means to their lives. It is a privilege to teach and be reminded of many things that as practitioners we may have begun to take for granted. 

Leaving everything behind 

When we step into our yoga space...I'm not saying 'mat' as yoga can be done sitting on a chair or the bus; it's more about carving out a mental space (and of course coming into a dimly lit room away from the world facilitates this more easily)... When we step into our bodies and breath within that space we can make a choice to leave behind the family arguments, the feelings of low self worth, the work expectations etc. That 'leaving behind' might walk a wavering line, but with practise it will become more concrete. And every time we re affirm that choice, by reconnecting with the breath, a chakra, the music in the room, a smile, or whatever...our ability to make a choice becomes stronger. Of course we have to go back to our home/ desk/ lives - but we go back a little different. For many people, weekly yoga class is the only time they take have that's not for someone else. The funny thing is that it ends up being for everyone, if it benefits us. 

Battling less with life 

In our first twists we tend to use brute force to get somewhere; to triumph over our bodies; to mirror or better where someone else is at. Over time we understand that kindness and breath produce openness in our spines. And before long our eyes are closed and we are the only one in this twist, playing with looping edges of acceptance/ frustration/ surrender. So off the mat do we learn flexibility. That trying to force life/ family/ friends/ colleagues into doing it our way doesn't work and only leaves us frustrated and wondering why other people have it better. 

A breath changes everything 

Breath is transformation on a cellular level. Not just an automatic function of the lungs but the thread that connects the everyday with the highest self. Whatever physical shape we are in, the breath unites us. What use is the most complex pranayama unless we remember to breathe? In the most challenging postures, through the breath, we learn that relaxation is not just lying around being lazy; but a highly effective mind body state. Class by class the breath starts to vie with our to do list or self beliefs as the chosen dwelling place of our mind. Back in the everyday, awareness of just one breath rises us above the battle and allows us to negotiate some inner space, to see and respond more clearly. 

Community heals 


Yoga is both being together and being entirely in our Self. Sometimes the community we need is the shared silence of shavasana, the brief absence of words in a noisy world; sometimes it's a chat after class, discovering common issues and sharing experiences. My experience is that our highest self guides us to the people we need and the work we are meant to do in each moment; the only thing that's required of us is to stay open to it; that of course is the whole practise! As teachers we simply facilitate the opportunities for communion and community, and let go of attachment to the results. 



I am grateful to offer yoga for positive mood and positive living courses as part of the Wellbeing network for mental health recovery, run by City & Hackney MIND. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Raga flow ~ live music & yoga unite

You may have remember my post a while ago about experiencing raga meditation in India. Well its such an pleasure to be linking up with Daisy Watkins to produce our own take on the blissful union of music and yoga this summer...

Raga Flow ~ live music & yoga 
Sunday 3rd July @ The Well Garden

Welcome to a new moon collaboration between musician & composer Daisy Watkins and yoga teacher & gong practitioner Ali Gunning. Inspired by the Indian roots of classical music and classical yoga, we have created an uplifting Sunday afternoon of live music & yoga.

Both raga and yoga inspire us towards a 'bhava' of divine bliss. Ali leads us through the yoga sequence, flowing from the heart to the crown, while Daisy's live soundtrack of viola and tampura guides and echoes our movement - until breath, sound and body are flowing as one.

We lead you into a deeply nourishing shavasana with a fusion of gong, voice and viola. And close our afternoon together with chai and nibbles.

Sunday 3rd July 2016
2-5pm
At The Well Garden, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT
£30 early bird (before13th June)/ concession, £35 thereafter
Suitable all levels
Bookings: piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com/ 07855402837



About Daisy

Enamoured with the romanticism of carnatic raga music, Daisy embarked upon her journey into exploring and discovering the beauty and creativity that can be conjured with this tradition.

Carnatic ragas are particularly appropriate to yoga as their origins are also found in India. There are unique characteristics given to each raga which Daisy carefully selects and builds upon to create intriguing settings and enthralling scenes. Combining this storytelling craft with the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga, Daisy found herself creating subtle, flowing and grounding music.

Influenced by her western classical background, the live score is composed for tanpura and viola. Whereas a traditional raga may be more rhythmical with tabblah and sitar, this music features the soothing, lyrical tones of the viola which add to the flow of the yoga class.

Daisy performs the music live with the intention of it being sympathetic to its environment and audience. She believes live music is much more enjoyable, personal and ‘in the present’.

Daisy has performed for many guided meditations, mindfulness classes and yoga workshops in and around London.

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Daisy Watkins trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. She performs regularly throughout the UK in various ensembles and is a passionate music educator.










Thursday, 21 April 2016

If the shoe doesn't fit...

If I meet one more beautiful being going through a massive transformation I'll have to write a book rather than a blog post. I wanted to write a blog post but almost as soon as words were formed they were redundant to say what I meant. They are mainly women, in all corners of my life; kicking down the walls that have contained them in some way; or watching a storm rip through their house, if they had been hesitating with that sledge hammer. 

It seems to be the time in which situations that we might have ambled along with, not quite satisfied but not yet ready to change, simply won't fit anymore: whether relationships, friendships, finances, careers or living arrangements. There is one thing that unites us and that is a search for authenticity. Its everywhere! And as the old protective structures come down, our hearts and fears are equally, authentically exposed. Not being good enough/ being good enough; letting go/ letting in; surviving, losing our power and many more. 

How do we know we aren't just running away? Fears are faced and transformed, not side stepped. The need for authenticity suddenly outweighs attachment to the known. Some part of us feels lighter after being stripped away. Of course as we embrace the vibration of transformation we attract others riding a similar wave. And this sisterhood can be the biggest blessing, inspiring us on when we are leaving others in our wake. That's not to say transformation may not inspire others, but that cannot be our motivation. 

Goddess Kali has been knocking on my awareness in various forms. We often hear and read that, sigh, we languish in a dark age (Kali Yuga). But, perhaps if we are awake to it, this is the real moment of Kali, when she flattens the lot in order to make space for rebirth? Her destruction is ever paired with compassion, bringing us through the dark to take a peek at the new light. But, if you do not wish to let go, all you will see is her fierceness; teeth, skulls an all. Transformation can be tough, painful, drawn out and unexpected. As she reminds us, this ain't permanent and it ain't yours. 

We all have our catalysts and for me India is it; time to be, time to question yet again, what feel authentic for me right now? As the search becomes more subtle, so do the layers of attachment. Ok I may have less things but what about clinging to the way others see me, or to spiritual ideals? The closer we get to how we once imagined out lives to look, the tighter the urge may be - who would want to let go of this, which we strived for? Patanjali wisely said that clinging to life exists even for the wise! But clinging always stifles our potential. Even our perfect ideal of yoga teacher life or whatever is not permanent. While we hang on to how it's supposed to be, we contract and we block the way for others who are expanding around us. 

As I sat barefooted in a blast of sunlight on the Downs last night I felt: 'transformation does not mean losing everything/ someone, but letting go...and the gain or loss is irrelevant.' And everything felt just perfect after a stormy few days.  Finally with the full moon overhead there is an air of completion as we take a breath and await the next cycle. 


Monday, 18 April 2016

introducing AcuGong...

A while ago I wrote that collaboration is the way forward, and at the time several exciting partnerships were bubbling under. Fresh from trialling the treatment with groups and one to ones, we are now delighted to be offering 'AcuGong' sessions in Hackney, Blackheath & Devon. 

Who we are


Myself, Ali, yoga teacher, yoga therapist & sacred sound practitioner. Sarah Pritchard, acupuncturist and Tui Na specialist: Sarah has been a big inspiration for me as she flows through life manifesting her dreams with a huge depth of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. And Chinese medicine practitioner Isabel Milner who adds an intuitive and compassionate touch to the body work.


What is AcuGong?

AcuGong is and does as it sounds; we combine acupuncture with the guiding vibrations of a gong bath, 
plus hands on energy/ body work. Acu and gong each work to balance the physical, subtle and causal flow of life force energy - for increased wellbeing and consciousness. 

Life is a flow of chi - flow with it...

When working with this combination we've found the effect to be greater than the sum of its parts. We (and our clients) often have the feeling that we are unearthing and reviving some ancient art of our feminine ancestors. Much like sound, colour & smell there seems a collective conscious shift towards time-honoured technologies in our healing modalities.

Both acupuncture and gong work along the bodies meridian energy lines, discovered in ancient Chinese medicine and verified by science today. AcuGong is about more than stimulating the liver or balancing the spleen, it is a journey that takes you deep inside your body to uncover its wisdom and understand the mental patterns which are both imprinted there and released through the flow of chi. 

Vibrational medicine not only has huge potential to bring body and mind back into harmony, but to protect our immunity in the first place. As physical wellbeing manifests from imbalance through the energy system, it would seem to make sense to work with practises which clear us of the daily onslaught of disharmonious vibration. A great resource for info on this is 'Vibrational Medicine' by Dr Richard Gerber. 

Intention...and awareness

More and more in my own practise and work I'm reminded of the power of intention, both group and personal. In each and every yoga practise, in each and every step of self healing, intention is the vehicle which gathers and guides the energy created to its destination. Thats not to say we only have to make an intention and its all fixed. We must continue to have awareness of what brought us here, what it taught us and what patterns we need to address. 

How does a treatment work as a group: 

Actually the work begins before the session as we begin to set our minds towards that which we wish to shift...

The afternoon opens with guided meditation, intention setting and mantra, moving into the treatment space for 1.5 hours approx. Where you'll receive needles by Sarah, in specific energy points relevant to your intention and current health, while I build up steady waves of gong and circulate with singing bowls & tuning forks. 

During the treatment Sarah and Isabel provide hands on bodywork to stimulate and balance the flow of chi where needed. After the session we allow for grounding, sharing (optional) and finally we burn and release the intentions to the universe.

One to ones: 

In a similar way but without the sharing, a treatment lasts around 1 hour and can be applied to any health condition. 

In both cases its important to note the AcuGong may be the start of bringing to light certain patterns, rather than an immediate fix all. Collectively our journey continues...

AcuGong recent feedback:

"I am speechless, more powerful than plant medicine!"

"Something profound has shifted since the treatment, I notice myself handling life in a different way."



AcuGong is coming up at The Well Garden 28th May, Blackheath Complementary Health Centre 5th June & in Lyme Regis on 7th Aug. Contact me for info! 


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Intend it loud and proudly

1 year ago, exactly to the day I received the keys, I voiced out loud, in a powerful circle of goddesses (aka yin training), an intention which had been bubbling away subconsciously, even since starting a blog called 'yoga adrift': to open a floating yoga and gong space. 

A space surrounded by nature; with no speedy turnovers between classes, where people could drink tea and chat after class; for friends to host weird workshops that wouldn't be 'commercial' enough for big spaces. In my dream I would live in a boatman's cabin on this floating ashram and my living room would be a yoga studio (a bigger version of what I have now basically...). It almost happened with a potential Belgian barge swap. Then things got busy, the cruising logistics (and bank balance) didn't quite work out. 

But it seems the wheels were turning on a divine plan, its outcome only slightly different to mine! So, later than expected, but with the same delight and pride, I can now introduce 'the shepherds hut at south mill lock'. Crafted from salvaged bits and pieces of trucks and houses, it fell into my path with the support of some generous-hearted and creative souls. And perhaps a divine wink that I still had some lessons to learn about patience. 

A mini yoga & gong space by, if not on, the river. On wheels (it couldn't be entirely stationary could it?) in a field next to my boat. But the intention remains the same. 

Now available for mini retreats and private gong baths for up to 4 people - and for use by other practitioners and teachers! 

What I learned? Keep intending out loud, surrendering the results and waiting patiently for what will be. LOVE from the river x








Thursday, 4 February 2016

Mantras for precarious times, peace & everything in between

I was recently describing in class how much I enjoy the 'door-mouse' effect of living near to nature. Winter always invites me to hibernate - and while I chant on a daily basis, I often intensify my 'japa' during the colder months. 

Japa is the practise of using a 'mala' (beads) to count out a specific number of repetitions of a mantra. The action of touching and moving around the beads (like a rosary) adds an extra 'anchor' to quiet the mind. It wasn't a requirement of my sadhana to reel off 108s, but had become a spontaneous transition day to night, night to day. 

Particular mantras are recommended for particular situations we face, employing words which are a wake up the soul, of it's own remembrance, as Russil Paul describes in the fabulous book 'The Yoga of Sound' (which 'appeared' for me around this time via my ever-inspiring colleague Yog Sundari!)Or the bija (seed) mantras - which are powerful keys to unlock our inner energy and potential. For example you may choose the 'Maha Mritunjaya' mantra to break through fear and embrace transformation. Or the mantra 'Om Yam' to invoke the qualities of the heart.

For me right now its the Shanti mantra (below). With the exact, beautiful intonation of my teacher Saji) it came whispering to me one evening as I drifted towards sleep. This mantra I realised was the first I ever led, as a terrified trainee in Kerala several years back. What had changed? 

At that time it was all about the fear of my voice, how did the mantra sound to others, was I getting it right, what the hell did these words in this strange language mean? While now I was tuning in to the vibration and forgetting about the words themselves. 

Despite the different 'flavours', any mantra can take us beyond the confines of the ego into connection with the highest self which is unconditional peace, wellbeing, transformation, love and anything else we invoke. In times of turmoil and disharmony, the turmoil within is the one we can start with. 'As above, so below.'

Centuries ago yogis and yoginis found that sound has different layers, from the loud 'external' sound to a whispered mantra, a silent thinking and a spontaneous repetition. And used mantra as a vehicle of intention; re-creating with our tongue, lips, mouth and vocal chords its particular vibratory pattern allows us to manifest the form or result which that pattern represents. The rishis ('seers') worked with both mandala (form) and mantra (vibration) and today there is renewed interest in this, as 'cymatics'. Check out mandalas created in sand or this amazing video of the gayatri mantra made visible in water (thank you Lisa for this, I could just watch it for hours!)

Like a song we hear constantly on the radio, when we repeat a thought it sticks in our subconscious. When we listen to or repeat a mantra we make space between the thoughts - and fill that space with harmonious messages - which serve not only ourselves but others. If you wish to meditate and have a chattering mind (who doesn't right?) japa is for you. Even when the mind becomes quiet the world is chattering at you - others opinions, media messages, technology. So mantra clears the clutter and replaces it with vibrations that re-align us with our original/ desired state of resonance. 

Even without a translation - in fact sometimes because of this, as we are not busy analysing - sanskrit mantras have transformative power setting off waves of vibration through our watery organs, cells, bones, energy pathways etc. 

The act of chanting exercises our lungs and lowers our heart rate. It activates the glandular system, balancing hormonal secretions such as melatonin (sleep cycles). At the same time we are expanding outwards - the 'like attracts like' effect invites a response from that which we are calling to/ for. If that sounds less verifiable, just try it and see what happens and what others observe in you. 

Chanting alone - awesome. Chanting together - even better. We sync into the same breath pattern, the same pitch, the same vibration. We might let slip the armour we build up of who and how different we are and start to feel truly in tune, never minding how in tune our voices are. And isn't that what we are looking for in this practise of union (yoga)? 

We are starting a new chanting circle at The Well Garden on Friday 12th Feb at 6pm. It's FREE and requires no prior experience of chanting or even to make a sound (just come, listen, lay down before the 6.30pm class if you like). 




Saturday, 19 December 2015

Still adrift, but putting down roots

5 winters (the river measure of time and hardiness) ago I returned from India broke and in pieces, and moved into a cold and unfamiliar world. 

Making a shaky start (broken gear boxes, chimneys lost under low bridges) and frozen in at Hertford I soon toughened up, scooping snow off the roof to boil for tea (and sneaking round to my best mates for washing and warmth). Then it was off to london to join the world of continuous cruising; whereby nomadic boaters move every two weeks, a 'reasonable' distance, sporadically policed by the questionable authority of canal and river trust. A sign of the times is that since then the liveaboard community on the canals has increased by 70-80 percent. Most people will claim crazy rents and inability to buy in london have fuelled this change but I like to see the wish to get outside the machine in some way as just as much a factor. That's certainly why I and many of my friends did it; craving a more sustainable lifestyle in all ways, not just monetary. 

In deciding to buy a boat I ummed and awwed for weeks about the philosophy of it - pretending to 'own' something and buying into the need for security. A wise owl (that same Hertford rock of a friend) said to me - this will be the beginnings of good things for you, and besides your home moves and you have no address it's hardly 'settling down'! She was, as often, right. 

The healing power of water had drawn me: water which signifies the life giving essence expressing in different forms; the emotions; acceptance and flow. Having this floating 'cave' and being able to step away from the popularity contest of london life, I began to expand anew. Savouring aloneness, I began to attract new friends and collaborators. 

It has been with the support of amazing family and friends that I've slowly transformed my boat into a simple but joyful home, reflecting my inner journey. Re painting and re naming her after the celtic goddess of horses this autumn I realise the subconscious power of symbolism. A friend asked me 'did you go for trad colours or does she reflect your personality?' I let the pictures speak to that : ) 

And now I move into the second stage of settling, with lesser resistance. Making a full circle back to Hertfordshire, we've moved onto a mooring on the beautiful river stort. It manifested almost instantly after stating with surprise to the universe what I would like in my life now: grounding. Nourished by water and ready for the steady base of earth. What once would have implied stuck-ness and distance from spirit now feels it's very container. Both earth in which to plant sunflowers, broccoli and herbs - and roots from which to welcome the wonderful opportunities opening up to teach and play sound. I am finding new community, including bunnies and squirrels, and soon there'll be a yoga space to invite you to. Of course, again, I can move anytime but there isn't a need to know that. 






Here she is post transformation - thank you so much to Ben Smith 'Mr Blue' boat painter. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Dancing between spontaneity & discipline

Several years ago a teacher commented on my practise that it was 'all very graceful and dancer-like' but  tightly-held and without spontaneity. At the time I was both pleased and confused; of course I want my asanas to look great and what did he expect me to do - crack out a hand-stand while he was cueing warrior? Actually this particular teacher would probably have delighted in that, so assured he was of his  craft. Now I kind of get it. When stuck-ness or approval seeking are traits of our life we quite probably replicate them on the mat. 

Now in the teachers shoes, I try to offer opportunities for students to honour their own bodies; to make an enquiry and move to its findings, even a simple spinal wiggle as opposed to uniformly cat-cowing with the rest. Like myself then, holding on for dear life in that twist, as students arrive on the mat they often don't know what the body needs or feel what it wants to do.  And no wonder - so many of our choices are guided by other people's opinions; we are assuaged with messages about how we should eat, look, walk, dress; and experience life from the head down. 

Yoga provides us with a structure in which to begin to re-connect with ourselves, our bodies, hearts and wisdom. And a space in which to dis-connect from some of this previous programming. Recently I've been observing myself on the mat for spontaneity - or lack of. Do I do the sequence that way because its safest/ most effective or am I starting to auto pilot here? Getting on the mat at the same time every day, regardless of how little you want to is immensely powerful - a new habit to replace other ideas that don't serve us so well. I state it clearly - it has changed my life. 

But what about when we believe everything will crumble without it? I looked at the four edges of my mat and briefly saw them as walls - were my ideas become rigid and my boundaries tense?  Several times I got the message recently: 'this girl needs to dance!' So with disciplined zeal I searched for where to go and get on with this task asap! Then as plans fell apart, it started to feel more like dancing was a way of being - just as yoga is not just our date with the mat. 

I decided to rebel against my own discipline and see if I still felt as balanced and clear. I slept til I woke naturally, sometimes at 5am as usual and sometimes at 9am after a late night teaching. I ate desert and stayed up late sometimes. I slacked off (ok, in the pitta sense of slacking off) for a week or so, felt better rested and increasingly liberated. Soon I was getting excited to move, shifting my sequences around in a circle - a dancer that arose freely from within. I got back on the roof of my boat and didn't care about the staring. And suddenly I was desiring a specific sadhana - back I've gone to the original meditation programme from my first kriya yoga retreat. Exploring it all again with new eyes, making new discoveries, savouring how far I've come and how much potential is still there. 

Tantra expresses beautifully this dance between discipline and spontaneity - the student must be seriously dedicated, yet also come to realise that the discipline is the means and not the goal. Practise is for the blocked body and messy mind - the true Self needs no practise. Sometimes we have to let go and just check we're still awake. My favourite poetess Lal ded said something like this 'for then we dance without support'. 

My point here is not to say 'oh just practise when you can be bothered'. No no no! But find ways to keep that practise fresh and alive; to get your feet on the grass; to always enquire within, even when you're doing just what the teacher has told you. Because following to the letter is different to following from the heart. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Connection & community

I have always been a bit of a loner, typical Sagittarius - living by myself, travelling solo and, although obviously surrounded by people in classes, working very much by myself. The idea of community and collaboration can get brushed to the side when we get super busy. Cycling between classes and working evenings I often felt that fellow yoga teachers were whizzing past each other, rarely having time to meet. 

When I graduated as a yoga teacher I didn't really know anyone else who was doing this, and most of my class mates were in other corners of the world. I kind of scrambled through the transition into contacting studios, setting up my own classes, creating lesson plans - with a lot of trial and error. 

Recently I've been asked to mentor several of my students in making the transition into teaching. And this has been such a gift, to reflect on and share some of those learnings. To feel proud of their journeys as well as my own. 

Embarking on my second teacher training I gained much more of a sense of community - our Akhanda yoga family has branches throughout the world and is now growing strong roots in the UK, through brilliant trainings offered by Yog Sundari. 

Community is so vital, to share knowledge and to express what we are teaching - that external differences are just labels and we are all the same underneath. It is easy to be equanimous in lone practise but real practise is to challenge it in interaction. 

Of course community doesn't mean just sticking to 'our kind', and I have learned most in recent years from collaborating with practitioners in other fields - acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, music. What a wonderful 'job' this is to meet with others who open our minds in new ways and to offer treatment exchanges to work on our own healing and progress. 

Returning from GMT in Poland I have a new family, created around the magic circle of the gong. As the gong is relatively new I feel the opportunity to create this community in a truly open and positive way which is about collaboration rather than picking over differences or competition. There are more than enough gong-ees to go around and the more gong is out there the more people will come. 

If we are open minded, collaboration might be a single meeting which we learn so much from or it can be a long term partnership which takes us in a whole new direction. Collaboration teaches us that we don't have to do it all ourselves (despite being super yogis who are of course possible of it) and allows us to focus on what we are most connected to in this moment. 

I feel a new direction calling me as I bring together learnings from all these connections over the years. Launching 'Resonant Retreats' is an attempt to create conscious connections through yoga, gong, wholesome eating and community - to uplift the vibration of our lives. Fran is the raw food genius who is also my hairdresser, dear friend and ex yoga student. We talk for hours about juicing and cleaning up the rivers but we also have a great laugh and we hope a sense of fun, love and lightness will come through in our offerings. See retreats page for info. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Space & soma - a midsummer workshop in Blackheath - 28th June

Delighted to be invited to host a midsummer workshop at the gorgeous Blackheath Complementary Health Centre in SE London....

'This body is an instrument, you will hear the tune it is meant to play.' Anandamayi Ma (the 'bliss-permeated mother')

In this half day workshop ('space & soma') we will create the space, which is often missing in our lives, bodies and heads, to uplift our vibration - through yin yoga, pranayama, chanting and gong meditation.

Harmonising and making space in body & mind - the yoga session
Life is a balance of yin and yang - around us, within us and pervading the whole universe. In modern life, and even yoga practise, our balance can tip towards excess yang, the fast paced active, solar energy - depleting our receptive, lunar and nurturing yin. Yin yoga involves surrendering to poses, in stillness, for long periods of time; listening to the body, watching the breath, waiting for release and opening.
Whereas dynamic yoga moves chi, yin yoga builds chi - the life force which runs through our meridians and chakras, bringing harmony to immune system, vital organs and glands. Yin yoga builds physical flexibility and emotional resilience - acceptance and awakening to inner wisdom.
Pranayama means not only controlling the breath but expanding the vital life force within it. We will explore the blissful Brahmari breath.
Through mantra we create space between true self and an overload of information and thought. Chanting as a group creates a powerful healing vibration for the well-being of ourselves and all.

Filling that space with blissful vibration - the gong
Bathing in the sound of gong is believed to work along the same meridian lines as acupuncture and yin yoga. Having opened up and wound down in the yoga session you are free to lay back and receive the vibrations of gong, deep into the body, energy system and mind. The gracious gong has a broader range of tones and harmonics than any other healing instrument so its potential to lead us towards self healing is vast and inclusive.
Each session is different, depending on your own needs and energy in that moment. Many people experience profound relaxation and physical release, the movement of blocked energies. Others see images and colours. You may slip into deep meditation, tap into intuition or leave with greater mental clarity. Probably the most common result is the best night's sleep in years!
Feedback from recent gong & yin workshops:
'I'm buzzing with energy after the yin, in a really lovely way. And I feel very clear in my head!'



'The gong session helped very much in a moment of intense external stress and worry. I found the resonance and vibration to support, encourage and expand the breath, so there is a constant dialogue between both. The body starts to open up on its own time, effortlessly, as if each organ, chakra, muscle, body and mind structure awakens like a flower in the right moment. There is no forcing, no pushing, the sound is the conduit for change. It is a very beautiful, poetic experience that makes you connect fully with life.'


Further details:

Saturday 28th June 2015
10am - 1pm
£30 early bird offer when booked and paid before 30th May
£35 thereafter
At Blackheath Complementary Health Centre 184-186 Westcombe Hill, London SE3 7DH 
The workshop is suitable for all, regardless of yoga experience. Please contact us if you have any specific health conditions or injuries which require extra support.
A short break with herbal teas and snacks will be provided. Please ensure you leave 2-3 hours between breakfast and the yoga session at 10am.
Please bring blankets, warm layers and drinking water – yoga mats and equipment provided.
Contact: 
For queries and bookings: Ali / 07855 402 837 / piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com / www.yoga-adrift.com


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Chai & chat with...Sheila Whittaker, gong master, musician, teacher & sound healer

I have noticed a huge surge in interest in the gong recently, with many people asking me where they can learn to play. So... we are delighted to welcoming such an authority on sound healing and gong, Sheila Whittaker, to host an introductory workshop and ALL-night gong puja at the well garden this Sept 19th. Sheila's was the first gong workshop I attended and has provided much inspiration for my personal and playing journey with the gong! Over to Sheila to tell you more...

What got you into working with the gong?
I was already working as a Sound Healer when I discovered the gong, about ten years ago - a series of synchronicities led me to discover it. I quickly realised it is the most powerful Sound Healing instrument and did the necessary training. Since then I  have specialised in working with large high quality gongs.

How many gongs do you own?
About 28 I think

...Which is the most essential/ dear to you and why?
I love my 60" gong and it is an amazing healing instrument. But my 38" symphonic gong is my favourite - it's sound is like coming home to me.. it has everything and really moulds to the person it is treating, giving exactly what is needed. 

You are a classically trained musician - does/ how does that influence your gong playing? 
It doesn't really influence my gong playing - it's not necessary to be musically trained to play the gong as it's a spontaneous thing - we play intuitively. But I guess my musical training does come in sometimes as I often find myself playing rhythms or hearing certain harmonies. The musical training definitely helps with my teaching though - it's very useful in that arena.

What are the benefits of a 'gong bath'?
Stress relief, relaxation, increased ability to cope with life's every day challenges, feeling more chilled out and tolerant, plus a myriad of other possible effects such as pain relief, and help for conditions such as insomnia, migraines, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, and other conditions.

What is the difference between a gong meditation and gong/ sound healing?
A gong meditation would probably be for a number of people, who may be either sitting or lying down, like a group gongbath. A gong healing would usually be a treatment session on a one-to-one basis for one recipient, with the Gong Practitioner just focusing on that person.

How important is intention when offering or receiving sound healing? 
I think it is very important. My intention is always to be a clear and pure channel for healing sound to flow through me for the Highest good of all present. Then there is always a positive intention, and that can only lead to a good outcome.

Where is the most unusual place you've held a gong bath?
I suppose that would have to be a huge basketball court in Perth, Australia, about 8 years ago when we took the on tour. Many people attended the group gongbath - it was an awesome occasion. I've also played at several garden parties, and it's nice to play the gongs outside - birds join in and animals tend to come and want to listen. 

What are some of the common ailments/ conditions you use gong to treat?
As above - insomnia, pain relief, fibromyalgia, migraines and headaches, stress relief, energy imbalances of all types, both physical and emotional, blocks in the subtle energy system, moving people on spiritually by clearing old energy. 

...And some of the more surprising/ unusual?
Yes, we've had results with kidney stones - scans showed there was one, then after a gongbath it had gone. We seem to be able to clear blockages to conception too - I and my students have successfully treated several ladies who wanted to get pregnant, and conceived following one or more gong treatments.

How do the benefits differ when playing rather than receiving a gong bath?
When you receive a gongbath you're able to just relax and receive. So the client may feel more relaxed than the therapist afterwards. However, I do feel that the benefits are more or less the same for giver and receiver - as Gong Practitioners we are so close to the gongs when giving treatments and gongbaths that we are bound to benefit from the vibes just as much as the client we are treating. We're not free to allow ourselves to go fully into Theta state and have visions and "journey", but we still get the effects. That's my feeling anyway, and my experience.

Why is the gong becoming so popular?
Because it has the broadest range of tones of any Sound Healing instrument. It works so well for relaxation, wellbeing and relief of stress, and people seem to be drawn to it somehow, when they are ready to grow spiritually.

As a healer how do you balance the need for technology with connection to nature?
Not easily! I use technology when necessary, and it is necessary to be able to utilise the latest technology for our work, while recognising that our connection to nature is of primary importance. Nature is our earth - our mother, and we need to be connected with her above all else. There are some destructive technologies today that I feel are not necessary or advantageous. We need to put nature first, not technology!

Who or what have been your greatest teachers?
Many! My parents; my first spiritual teacher Sri Vasudeva; the gong work and the gongs; certain relationships have been some of the greatest teachers! Mooji; James Eaton; Eckhart Tolle. My own self observation and intuition.

What keeps you in balance (gong and other treatments or practises)?
The gongs, chanting, listening to music, meditation of all types, playing the violin and performing, eating lightly and nutritiously, mixing with like-minded people, doing things which keep my energy vibration high.

What is the importance of honouring the equinoxes and solstices?
I feel we need to honour the natural cycles of the earth and celebrate the passing of the seasons. It is good to mark these times with rituals, as our ancestors did in times past - an opportunity for people to come together in celebration. The gong Puja is an ideal event to celebrate these special times.


Sheila's first introductory gong workshop takes places at the well garden, hackney on Sat 19th Sept - you can attend the daytime workshop 10am-5pm to learn more about the gong's history as well as how to play - plus participate (play and receive gong) in a sacred gong puja ceremony, running all night until Sunday 20th (breakfast provided)! 






 

Monday, 6 April 2015

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



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

One conscious bite at a time...


Many of you will have come across mindful eating on yoga retreats or mindfulness courses - probably based on the John Kabat-Zinn raisin exercise. It often reveals our deep emotional connections with food – from memories of mum's christmas cake to 'I wish the teacher would just shut up and let me eat it!' (depending on what the edible object is/ how we are feeling). But it can also be terrifying, baffling etc.

It is one thing to eat consciously with soothing guidance in a relaxed environment (as it is to breath beautifully into parasympathetic resonance on our yoga mats) but how do we apply these learnings on the wider scale, to benefiting our everyday lives?

In our recent 8 week course tailoring yoga towards recovery from disordered eating, we set a home practise: to take one mindful bite of each meal, or conscious sip of one drink, once per day. So I'm following it myself for a week. The task is to slowly explore with the senses: smelling, touching, watching, listening to and finally tasting. But not just like v dislike ('yep that piece of toast smells good' as we shovel it in); really observing how the smell fades and develops; feeling around the different textures, noticing the temperature; putting an ear to the crackling of muesli... and so on.

For most of us not every meal can be this slow and mindful. There are situations where we would feel extremely odd gazing intently at our dinner. Say dinner with our new work colleagues for example!

But can the scheduled practise seep into the day to day, so that every meal becomes a little bit more conscious? From the two extremes we can move towards balance and integration - this is what yoga is all about right?

On day one its more like my third sip of morning tea which is at all mindful. The first thing I notice, before even the smells, texture etc is berating myself for forgetting! High expectations and judgement can be a pattern itself (it probably already is a pattern in many areas - playing out on the plate or the yoga mat). The exercise isn't about being perfect – in this case perfectly mindful all the time, just a little more conscious.

Day two I choose my morning yoga snack, a couple of dates and nuts. I think about how sugary dates are as well as how amazing they are to squish and realise that I wake up looking forward to this sugar in the morning when its particularly cold on the boat. And that I don't judge myself for this, whereas in the past I would have felt bad about admitting to having sugar cravings. I feel pleased with myself for this step... then judge myself for my lack of equanimity!

Day three I start to notice my posture as I eat, it seems quite protective and cramped – I would never sit for yoga practise this way. I examine all the textures of my bircher muesli and banana, just as it is. I am also aware of how much easier it is for me to be mindful with cold foods/drinks than hot ones, which I cant bear to go cold – interesting!

Day four I am trying out dinner and I realise I'm thinking about an intelligent thing to write about the experience. I laugh at myself for being unconscious in a whole new way.

Day five, you may be getting bored now, but I am curious about how different meals or foods are more emotive and difficult. Sometimes we bolt our lunch because we just have to eat in a hurry or because the pace of our lives has us habitually rushing. And to judge ourselves for that can be counter productive. But at other times are we rushing as we subconsciously know that if we did slow down we would go through a less elaborate version of conscious eating – and realise that what we are eating isn't the best thing for our health right now?

Day six, I'm eating with family and thinking about how hard it is to be both attentive to conversation and keep my senses on the plate. Of course eating together can be joyful, as it is in this case, but there can also be lots of triggers and challenges to staying conscious with food, perhaps versus using food to escape or deal with am emotional situation.

Last day, dinner, I make a legendary raw salad of red cabbage, carrot, tahini, olive oil, sunflower seeds and goji berries. I realise that what I'm doing is shifting things around in my routine for the opportunity to eat consciously...as opposed to fitting in eating/the practise when I can. I pause after shutting my laptop down before going to the kitchen. Switch the engine off and pause before serving up.



If you are interested in how yoga can help with disordered eating please contact us about the next 8 week course. Om shanti