It is in this intermingling that I feel on the right path.
Combining honour of roots and earth-cycles connexion, with a practice of yoga; embodied awareness, enquiry…
Weaving breath and asana with the energy of intent, in the mysteriously wise fabric of body.
A morning of energizing, playful, and deeply relaxing contact yoga, with Sophie Shenstone – connect with your breath, play with balance and weight transfer, grounding and stretching, mutual support and trust. The meditative aspects as well as the toning and stretching aspects are heightened when yoga involves two beings.
Shared lunch in the tranquil, leafy grounds. Everyone brings a dish to share.
Afternoon workshop learning a hands-on Integrative oil massage routine, from Leonie Watson (Leonie Watson.com). Bring your partner to this day for a lovely pre Christmas treat, and take your massage skills with you to cosy up in the winter months. Take a laminated crib sheet away with you for reference.
One person £48, or two folk booking together only £85
Kali Pose yoga flow, in the shade of the walnut tree, at Wild Yurt Holidays in the foothills of the Serra d’Estrella mountains, near Cabreira, Portugal.
Why Kali? to give us strength and power in the face of the life and home threatening forest fires that raged through Portugal this June…one of which made the international news, but over 60 other fires caused huge swathes of destruction, one of these coming uncomfortably close to our little yoga retreat! Isn’t it about time the mass scale planting of Eucalyptus as a cash crop was ditched…as a complete and utter environmental disaster waiting to happen every scorching Summer….!!
As the skies turned from a peerless blue, to an eery day time twilight, our peaceful forest meditations took on a more serious tone…watching bodily emotions such as deep visceral fear, linked to the feeling of our human fragility in the face of elemental catastrophe…Though we weren’t in immediate danger on our little patch of paradise, the monstrous fire that claimed over 100 lives was only 2 hours away, and it’s smoke changed the atmosphere within and without. More threatening were the closer fires, springing up willy nilly from the hot parched land, just beyond our horizon…sending gusts of hot ash to land all over our belongings….In the night, the sky was ominously red in the direction of the wind turbines across the valley…Was the closest fire under control yet? Which way was the wind blowing? Should we be more concerned?
My friends patch of tranquil, rugged wilderness, where I have now taught five Wild Yurt Yoga retreats, is a true patch of paradise…a land of ancient terraces intricately designed in centuries past, to capture and divert water through a myriad of channels and under ground tunnels and springs, the spring water flows through and around their land, and the wide horizons hold mountains and trees and sky. Each day we live simply, close to the earth, yoga on the grass looking up into the sky, chi kung and meditation in the forest over looking the mountains…and the quiet warm starry nights. The retreat is a time for peace and back to Nature immersion, for delicious healthy food, water and air, but also a journey into the unknown. Not a time to have everything organised and controlled and wrapped up in a security blanket of guaranteed luxury….no, it really isn’t that kind of yoga holiday..
Instead, we have Beauty in Simplicity, and an invitation to delve deep – to really take a look inside…If there are no rough edges, there is no learning.
Nature has a way of teaching us to Surrender – as we realise that ultimately, we really have no choice. We can relax, knowing that nothing is under our control!!
My current favourite poet, William Stafford, tells us we must be “willingly fallible to deserve a place in the realm where miracles happen”….
Yes to the Mystery.
“Hush now mind, it’s time to relax and be quiet. There’s nothing important to talk about right now. You’ll have plenty of time to talk later…”
A morning of strong but flowing, meditative Hatha Yoga with Sophie Shenstone (aka Shenyoga, teaching in Bath Uk for over 15 years)
Breath awareness is the key to this dynamic but sensitive and intuitive style of yoga
Moving into a space of joy and gratitude, enjoy being and flowing in your body while mental chatter and stories take back seat
Shared pot luck lunch – picnic outside in the cute graveyard garden if sunny….
Time to walk in the countryside or chill out in the ambient space
Afternoon workshop exploring meditation with humorous, insightful, and experienced Kamala Mann (teaching in Bath Uk)
Includes guided meditations with different style and emphasis, including movement as well as seated and lying down..
Time for feedback and integration…see what resonates and what just makes things worse!
quote…”meditation practice..?? no brainer!!”
VENUE – the aesthetically WOW, earthy, spacious, natural, warm chapel in Marshfield!! £48 (£35 low wage )
Please follow this link to BOOK HERE
VERY SOON to start a new regular morning ‘Dynamic Hatha Yoga’ class at The Bath Yoga Studio, Wednesday 2nd March, 10.45am -11.45am
‘Hatha Yoga’ means….hmmmm what does it mean again, this thing that I practice every day??
I usually tell students the generic meaning of ‘Hatha Yoga’ is any kind of Yoga which incorporates physical postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation practices, where as Yoga without the Hatha is all about the meditation.
The natural Buddhists among us are happy to go straight into the seated meditation, and become (miraculously I think!) internally still …whereas the Yogis among us need to attend to the restlessness of the body, stretching and squeezing and toning, grounding and balancing and removing toxins….and only then are we able to arrive in a more focussed and peaceful inner space, allowing the mind to settle, and becoming internally still…..
Yoga is all about stilling the mind to catch a glimpse of the Infinite which usually doesn’t get a look in while we are absorbed in our usual internal chit chat. The ‘Hatha’ part is about helping to create a conducive environment for this more expansive, wider perspective.
Hatha Yoga is a practice of moving and stretching and breathing with an attitude of simple presence and non judgement. This affects the biochemistry, the nervous system, the brain waves, the circulation, the hormones, the emotional reactivity, the psychology, the metabolism, the energy levels, the stress levels, the sense of feeling at ease, the EVERYTHING!…all interacting and looping back on each other, with the over all effect of creating feelings of inner Peace, Oneness, Wholeness, and just Being…..and we naturally find ourselves in a meditative space, which includes a deep love and respect for the body.
I LOVE Hatha Yoga – because of this inherent honour and respect of the body. Personally I can’t just sit and switch off – I need to ease myself into the wonderful deeply relaxed inner space by connecting with and becoming absorbed in the beautiful sensitivity of being a creature of the earth.
Through a dynamic, energizing practice of flowing, creative yoga sequences, interspersed with passive, totally ‘letting go’ postures, core strengthening movements, time honoured Pranayama techniques, visualisations, affirmations, and intuitive breath-filled body releases…mmmmmmmmmm ….. we come into a place of health, wonder and natural, peaceful, wide open inner awakeness.
With simplicity and dignity, we arrive whole heartedly in the shrine of the body, upon the temple of the earth.
This is quite a nice place to be, I would recommend it!
Here is another definition I like.
‘Yoga, in Sanskrit, means to completely know yourself and to be at peace in yourself. It is not possible to define this peace except to say it is freedom from all suffering, freedom from doubt and freedom from confusion. A natural blessedness unfolds in you as you feel this peace and you increasingly realise this as the core essence of your life. This realisation is called yoga: a clear knowledge of the oneness of your self with the source of all life.
Being established in this knowledge, your life starts to flow with a vital freshness and harmony, with clarity, mental alertness and a fullness of loving understanding. This yoga state is expansive, creative and life-supportive.’ (Gaia.com)
Context aside…I found one basic theme ringing out. These students in yoga, were both saying in their own way, that the average yoga class delivers only half the promised goods. Yes, there is the delicious toning and stretching of muscles, the increased awareness of posture (and deficiencies..), the chemical high that comes from core strengthening, challenging vinyasas, and sharing the process with other beings in the class. Also, usually, (thankfully) some level of release – some Restorative poses, words of wisdom enhancing a positive head space, and then if you’re lucky, a few minutes lying down at the end, chill out time…
Yoga is a fascinating combination of physical work out/emotional unravelling/mental and physical re programming/reflecting and evaluating on life path/prioritising health and positivity/ head space from life’s dramas/elevating consciousness to ponder Spirit and Meaning……The thing that keeps me hooked is this holistic alchemy; one can choose to bring into focus any of these aspects, which is excellent when one has a tendency to get bored of one angle! Just re kindle the passion by focussing on a different element of the mix! And in this way, allow the practice to be Creative – ever changing, adapting, consciously responding to the seasons of the earth, and the seasons of ones life…
What these neighbours-in-food expressed to me, was the fact that most Western yoga classes squeeze out the time alloted for complete release and stillness, the timeless time for ‘meditation’ . Not the seriously ‘trying to meditate’ sort of meditation. But the naturally peaceful, restful, kinder head space that one cultivates through the beautifully designed practice of physical (Hatha) yoga…the very thing that working with breath, posture, and presence so magically cultivates is given short shrift…..sorry, no time to bathe in the Peace, because one must rush headlong into the rest of ones tightly scheduled week.
If any of this rings true for you…
a) suggest to your teachers that they consider redressing the balance, even just a little…(it would be good for them too..)
b) break your pattern and try another class, for example mine!! ha ha…..
There are others out there who feel into the roots of yoga, and aren’t scared of ‘meditation’ yet at the same time love to really work the body, celebrating strength and creativity, with a practice that is buoyant and challenging yet deeply restorative, supported by presence and non competativeness…
Not really quite getting the hang of this…the banality of advertising and promoting is flattenning and blandizing my soul…..”come to my fantastic, uniquely different YOGA workshop, you really NEED it for your SANITY!”…”NEW course, really GREAT for your health, (especially your BUM), all levels, all round, all cosmic, all TONING, totally UNMISSABLE !”….”Selling out fast, PRESS THE BUTTON NOW before the world explodes like Mr Creosote!” “AAAAAAAAAGH!!!”…..somehow I am beginning to forget what draws me to Yoga, draws me to teach, draws me to dance, draws me to BREATHE….my passion is lost between the lines of patronizing stock phrases and bromide enthusiasm…….”AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”
hmmm that’s better
…a poem………a portal.
Just pause a few seconds before you read on. Please.
In a moment of tasting
The I that is You
The capsized world
Like an old puzzle finished
I throw myself back in the box
To be revealed again and again
With such delight
by Ayaz (from “For You” ‘A Collection of Prayer Poems’)