Saturday, 3 December 2016

My Story

In 1998, I sustained a bad fall whilst wakeboarding and hurt my back. At the time,  my knee was already bothering me from repeated impact & falls from an active lifestyle, competing in various sports since the age of 10. Someone suggested to take up yoga as they had heard that it might help. Desperate to be pain free, I went along to a class with my friend. I wasn't hooked right away until I attended my first Ashtanga class not long after. And here began my lifetime journey of yoga practice. It was no longer about healing my body, I just fell in love with it. At first, it was the physicality of the practice that i loved. Everything was amazing! My muscles were so tight, i couldn't sit up straight & needed at least 2 blocks. I looked around & remember being so intrigued by all these bodies in Trikonasana (why can't i put my hand on my shin like they are??) I know it is hard to imagine it when you see me now. It has been a long (16 years), wonderful journey that continues to evolve with age. Looking back now, i feel blessed that my body challenged me in all those ways because it has taught me patience, perseverance & commitment, and more importantly, taught me all the ways to support someone else on the same path. 
The pain-
It wasn't magic so I wasn't healed overnight. The knees felt better quite quickly and it didn't take long before i stopped wearing a brace. I think it is pretty impressive going from an unstable, painful knee to climbing 5 big mountains. I continued to have regular severe back pains for several years. There were days when nothing could comfort the pain- sitting? laying down, curling up? hitting it?? It was just something i lived with. One day, i realised that I had not had the pain for awhile! And since then, I have been virtually pain free! Today, I am beginning to feel the wear & tear of my body again. My orthopaedic consultant tells me that any other person would not be walking in the way I am with the stuff that is going on in my body, so whatever I am doing, keep doing it. It is all thanks to yoga.
Apart from this, I also started to notice a HUGE change in my personality. I was no longer impatient, or reactive. I was calmer, my thoughts were less hectic, less judgemental (especially towards myself) Whilst my body got stronger and stronger, my personality got softer. I was much happier. I stopped self harming & stopped dieting (& everything else that abused my body) My relationships with my family, friends & people flourished and I just fell into a happier place. 
It looks like you are just doing exercise. But i have discovered for myself how it shapes your beliefs and your life! As you get more in touch with your body, you get more in touch with yourself. Some of these crazy poses, they teach you to trust yourself. They are like keys that open the doors for you to see your strength, your potential & your infinite possibilities! They teach you patience, commitment & also acceptance of all that you are.
My yoga practice is an inside-outside journey that supports my life. I have seen what it can do for me & i have seen what it has done for so many, whether in their physical body, mental health or a shift in their energy, their self belief. It is this that I share with all my heart. The belief that this practice can change your life! 
namaskaram
thank you for reading
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Ignite The Warrior



Sankalpa is the yoga practice of focusing your mind and energy to fulfil your heartfelt desires (or dharma) It is similar to the new year's resolution except that it starts from the assumption that you already are who you need to be to fulfil this. One of my teachers, Rod Stryker (Para Yoga founder) explains that the main influencer of life is the mind. So to create the life you are meant to live or want to live, you must draw the mind again and again to your clear and deepest intentions and sankalpa does this for us.

'Kalpa' means vow - "the rule above all other rules"
"San" is the connection to the highest truth
So sankalpa can be said to be the commitment you make to support your highest truth. Sankalpa is a statement that helps us align to our intentions. A statement we can repeat to help us remember- draw our minds again and again to our purpose and intention. It helps us align our decisions because every choice is an opportunity to strengthen the energy of our resolve.

Igniting the warrior is my personal practice of sankalpa. It is how I interweave sankalpa into my practice and how my practice supports my sankalpa. Like all practices, it took many unsuccessful sankalpa attempts before I even managed to really fulfil one and quite frankly, I am not always successful at it even today but it is important to keep trying and keep reaching for these milestone steps. Although sankalpa is supposed to be practiced during yoga nidra, I have found that incorporating it in my other practices have tremendously helped me achieve them. 

I will be sharing this workshop once a year in January. During the workshop, we will discuss about setting sankalpa, weaving it into your practice, the use of mudras and mantras to support you and also meditation and yoga nidra. Please bring a notebook / paper and pen. I look forward to share this with you




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Vinyasa Bliss

 

Yoga asana practice is very much a moving meditation. It is a way to connect to that stillness within that yogis call bliss- the state from which life originated, that is within each and every one of us. Just as there are many layers in our thoughts, so too are there many layers of experiencing our body. In my experience, piercing through these later of experience begin to connect you to an awareness within where the lines begin to blur as to whether you are still experiencing something physical, something conscious or something more- like energy perhaps, or prana, your life force? Call it what you like, this place is a place of blissful awareness.

Adding the vinyasa element to your practice can help you connect to your practice in this way.  One of the meanings of vinyasa is ‘to consciously place in a special way’. It is a practice of mindfulness that can be honed using various “tools”. Where, how, when to place the eyes, ears, thoughts, breath, body or how to hold your space, your attention, your calibration, when things gets interesting.

It is not so much about making shapes – although there is nothing wrong with this as this is part of experiencing the layers of the body, but it is about experiencing how the breath, body, mind, takes you there and what happens when you are there, sitting in that energetic space. As we move through the layers of experience, more possibilities begin to open up. It is an endless field of feeling!  Each posture is a mudra, with its own energetic connotation. This is also there is an excitement about meeting challenging postures; finding new physical, mental and energetic connection through them. 

But there are krama's. These are steps. And our entire practice should also follow the krama's- only taking more when we are ready, when it is time.   
When you have connected to your energy in this “special” way, you tap into your fluid strength. This is a place where effort begins to look effortless, where strength feels light, power feels soft and you feel like you are tapped into a boundless supply of energy.

When you practice in this way, you are always practicing, even when we step off your mat. It becomes a part of your consciousness. A way to twist & turn & adjust with your space, so that there are less moments of feeling stuck, on and off your mat.

I am positively nuts about vinyasa. It's roots, its philosophy, it's gifts & it's complete encompassment of everything in life! I'd like to think that I live my life through vinyasa! I am so thrilled to be sharing this passion soon! I have been incredibly lucky to have studied with some amazing teachers who have shared their passion for this practice especially Shiva Rea, Simon Park, Claire Missingham, Sianna Shermann & Jivamukti yoga teachers. I feel the calling now to do the same. I was asked to describe, why study this with me? I can only say its a personal choice. On my part, i will keep the group small enough that you will not feel lost in the group ever. You will always have direct contact with me for your questions, whether in person or by email. I do not take this responsibility lightly and will pour my heart into offering you everything i have ever accumulated in my 20 years of study. I hope to meet you on the path 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Mentoring Giants

Staring at my page blankly.
A deluge of things I want to say..
My entire being is overflowing with gratitude
and is rendering me speechless.
Can't believe two months of my first mentoring program has passed.
Having previously mentored on TT programs, this was so different as nobody had to follow any program & our work just unfolded organically. It was personal & intimate. The group supported each other as much as I did them. I am so thankful to have been given this trust and this privilege to be a part of these guys' teaching path. To be given the space to share openly, truthfully with no fluff. These guys are amazing teachers supporting amazing students. There are really no words to describe what I was privileged to have witnessed. Only that I am so proud to be a part of the profession with these guys.. 

You have to be there to see it to understand it :- the connection between teacher and clients, the words shared with such sincere purpose, the attention to detail, the willingness to try something new. Some of these words sound like yoga cliche but this IS a yoga teacher's world. I have taken so much away from this myself.  

Honestly, it was not all easy. I had to stop a few times to question myself. If i am on the receiving end, would i want to hear this, how much do i want to hear or can bear to hear. It's not brutal, just brutally honest at times. But the most "brutal" of my teachers were the ones who had nourished me the most. And the kindest, most fun of my mentors had a way of being equally honest and raw with their feedback & these have always been food for growth. "No mud no lotus" I feel these guys are out there to keep the teaching tradition strong. After all, yoga practice is a lot about discipline and discipline is not easy. We don't need organizations setting us standards, we just have to uphold our responsibility. 

I feel that my goals for the group had been achieved, actually over and above what i had set out to do because the group put so much work into this collectively and individually. I am looking forward to my next group as so much of the program has evolved in this short time. Ultimately, i hope to build a small community of teachers that will continue to meet, support and learn from each other. Sharing their knowledge as a friend and peer. And i am looking forward to be a part of this group too. 

Link to my website for mentoring program here 

Friday, 16 September 2016

Mudra Vinyasa

Mudras are energetic gestures. They are also sometimes described as seals or symbols. Most mudras are hand positions, also known as hasta (hand) mudra but mudras are also body postures, eye postures or breathing techniques. So you can say, every yoga posture is also a mudra. These gestures are a way of directing current into or through our bodies. You can say it is about adding another level of focused attention. Hence it is common practice to use hand mudras during meditation.

More research is starting to show that our psyche is affected by messages we receive from our bodies. A well known example is, standing with an open body to feel more confident. Smiling to change how you feel, even when it is forced. Similarly, mudras engage with specific parts of our brain or body and is said to have the ability to alter how we feel or even cure certain ailments. 

Mudra Vinyasa is a moving meditation practice that focuses on shifting energetic patterns in our bodies, mainly to calm the nervous system and leave the practitioner feeling relaxed but also energized at the same time. On a good day, it leaves you feeling perfectly balanced. The practice evolved out of my love for Prana Vinyasa Yoga (by Shiva Rea), Shadow Yoga (by Shandor Remete) and Chinese Martial arts practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi (and various other branches of schools) It also grew out of my love for slow movement that feels and looks soft but is actually a steady powerful fire inside. I started to practice like this out of practicality- on the beach especially and outdoors where it is not practical or comfortable to put your hands down on the ground. I found that it got me so focused, that I just started to include it as part of my home practice also. It got a big push when a vinyasa-loving friend had shoulder surgery and still wanted to practice flow but was unable to do the "usual stuff". And so grew these Mudra Vinyasa sequences. I added mudras as I feel like they have a place in the practice, especially within some of the flows. Already we often see chin mudra in some asanas, so why not include more.

Come and try it! It is not a soft practice. There are no difficult asanas in the open practices, you are rarely on your hands (maybe just all fours and cobra) Having said that, it is a dynamic practice. You will build quite a bit of heat as you will be moving every part of your body for the whole duration of the class. Your legs & hips work quite hard as there is a lot of Muladhara Chakra work (base chakra, thinking about getting rooted & grounded) And i will be including a fire section in each practice too.

Here's a link to the practice. It is a short version that aims to show the essence of the practice. If you have practiced with me before, you can use the video to help you with the flows. You just have to repeat each flow more and add the asanas in between each flow. Enjoy!    



https://vimeo.com/181971751

Monday, 13 June 2016

Reflection

Last week, someone asked me if i ever got bored of teaching. I get asked this regularly. It has been 10 years after all, and, i believe, around 10,000 hours of teaching. 
Bored, no.
I also get asked often, how i stay inspired to do this every day enthusiastically :-D 

Truthfully, i am fuelled by people.
I love meeting people. I love chatting to people. I love connecting with people- which is why i love social media also. 

Every single time I walk into a space to teach, I am immediately lifted by everyone's presence- whether it's one or one hundred. No one class has ever felt the same, just like not one practice ever, just like not one day ever. My inspiration to teach comes from my love of watching people move, & even more so, watching as the practice unravels their realisation of their strength & brilliance. 

The only difference is that after years of teaching, I have my roots and am fully able to be authentic in my delivery. Delivering only what I know, what I practice and what I feel in my body and in my heart and what i truly believe. Not trying to be more, not trying to fit into anything, not trying to please anyone. Just serving the practice as i understand it. I am sure this helps keep the love for the work. And of course, the immense love of the practice itself!  <3 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Grow Together



When you find a teacher that resonates with you, inspires you and ignites your own fire, stick to them! There is so much to gain from working with one teacher. Give them the opportunity to get to know your body & what you seek from your practice. In this way, you open the gateway for them to serve you. The more time you give them, the more opportunity you will both have to grow together.
As a teacher myself, I am excited & grateful when a student is willing to stay. Through the times when i am interesting, entertaining and inspiring, but also when I seem to have nothing much to share (a digestion time or just an uninspired time!) The more I learn about someone's body, the deeper I get to study, the ways in which to support them in their practice. In depth understanding cannot be fostered in a short time and as a teacher, my study and progress can only be made when a student stays. Now in my 10th year teaching, I am confident to walk into any room to present a class to anybody, but on a general level. All the benefits of practice will be there; moving your body, feeling more focused & relaxed, feeling energised, feeling good about yourself, etc. Beyond this though, there is so much more to be gained from practice that can only attained when trust, understanding, connection & surrender is present, both ways.
Find your teacher, and give them & yourself, a chance- the old way.