14th Dec 2019 - Anatomy of postural alignment & sequencing @ Heaven on Earth

14th Dec 2019 - Anatomy of postural alignment & sequencing @ Heaven on Earth

What differentiates a good yoga sequence, from a great one?

We're looking at and dissecting in practice three varitaions on common vinyasa sequences, suryanamascar, chandranamascar and a typical vinyasa warrior flow. In our exploration we'll see their effects on the breath, bandha, muscular skeletal and nervous systems.

This will lead to great insights into the importance of the actions and how one can modify for injuries and individuals with special conditions to achieve a similar effect and group inclusivity.

8th Dec 2019 - Anatomy of postural alignment & adjustments @ MYC

8th Dec 2019 - Anatomy of postural alignment & adjustments @ MYC
  • WHAT makes assisting posture therapeutic and what makes it dangerous

  • WHEN to cue breath, and the pitfalls of pranayama *

  • WHY “shoulders down and back” can be THE LEAST effective cue in certain situations

  • HOW “draw the naval into the spine“ is an often ineffective way to stabilise **

    Do you want to truly understand why yoga postures can be so effective at bringing about a sense of well being?

Cancelled - 3 Aug 2019, 13:00-16:00, Synergy Workshop, Cardiff

Cancelled - 3 Aug 2019, 13:00-16:00, Synergy Workshop, Cardiff

It’s time and you deserve a thorough reasoning and understanding of how to incorporate the philosophy of yoga into movement. Even handstands….

Many people practice Haha yoga (like Ashtanga vinyasa) or Thatha yoga (like yin), but it’s important to understand that the effect is instantaneously blissful with the informed approach to movement that includes how to relax and exercise the body at the same time. With this way of practice, the mind wanders less and you have a much reduced risk of injury or even muscular soreness afterwards and the next day.

20 July 2019 Synergy Workshop at Heaven on Earth the space

20 July 2019 Synergy Workshop at Heaven on Earth the space

It’s time and you deserve a thorough reasoning and understanding of how to incorporate the philosophy of yoga into movement.

Many people practice Haha yoga (like Ashtanga vinyasa) or Thatha yoga (like yin), but it’s important to understand that the effect is instantaneously blissful with the informed approach to movement that includes how to relax and exercise the body at the same time. With this way of practice, the mind wanders less and you have a much reduced risk of injury or even muscular soreness afterwards and the next day.

Anatomy of the Spine workshop - Cardiff

Workshop in which you will be led in detail the possibilities of movements for each joint complex and learn how to create bandha around each to effectively turn the yoga practice into pranayama and moving meditation and always gain rather than deplete energy, no matter if your favoured practice is athletic or restorative.

This workshop is accessible to all levels with plenty to take away from the experience at any stage in your yoga journey.

Yogastef Anatomy Poster colour May 19.png

We will mainly focus on using rotation of the limbs to create stability around all the joints making this practice suitable and safe or everybody as well as highly recommended for teachers of yoga, pilates, martial arts and anyone who wishes to/ or do practice exercise based physiotherapy.

Part 1
Looking at effect on the spine from the range of motion of the shoulders and neck

  • Using various whole upper body mudras and which asanas they form

  • Understanding of positioning and securing of the Amsa (shoulders) and Jalandhara (upper spine) bandhas in selected postures

  • How to effectively access the core throughout downdog, chaturanga and preparing for handstands & floating.

  • Suitable and useful alternatives to choose that also improve strength and mobility and give the therapeutic benefits of chaturanga dandasana vinyasa

Part 2
Our main emphasis will be standing postures in a way that creates effective movement of energy and information through the body

  • Our main anatomical focus will be the possibilities of balancing various bandhas around the lower body, leading to greater health and longevity

  • The interplay between feet (pada bandha) and ankles (kulpha bandha) helps us to fix low spinal alignment issues and to best protect while strengthening the knees (janu bandha)

  • With an understanding of this we can move with more control in the hips (kati bandha)

  • Demystifying mula bandha, the waist joint complex and accessing it's stability through various postural positions (ie not just tightening the anus)

stef colva still warmup balance.png

We will practice simultaneously three approaches; therapy, boga and yoga.
Addressing the fun challenging aspects of asana as well as therapeutic approach to the healthier approach.

The first is self explanatory, learning to practice and teach in a safe effective way for most people, whilst using practice to heal or make the body even more healthy and to avoid injury in the future. Everything we practice is subject to ahimsa (gentleness) and svadhaya (self inquiry).

Boga is commonly understood as yoga for sensory pleasure, and numerous people will be able to follow and practice in a way which leads to true yoga. A feeling of interconnectedness of the mind, through the body, union.

The structure is mostly physical practice based, try this, try that, what do you feel?
The emphasis is on pacing oneself, less stretch, less tense as we're practicing for a longer period than perhaps normal.


The intention is that you will complete this workshop with a healthier stronger more flexible spine than ever!
Perhaps more importantly than this, understanding why and how to recreate this healthy condition each time you come to practice.
You will be taught a practical application to use of the bandhas in all 9 major joint complexes which ultimately lead to maha bandha and stirum sukham asanam (the classical texts describing a physical state ripe for expansive evolution)

There will be handouts for you to take home with reminders of everything we learnt on the day.

Please ask questions about availability/ content interest and suitability by email or phone 07449224244


check out the facebook event here for more info

Free class offers!

You can use a yogastef free class pass at the blue highlighted classes below:

Just apply here

(if you haven’t already)

and please share on social tagging @yogastef

You can tick off your pass when you arrive at the first class that suits you, see you then!

Please note this offer is intended for new students. If you have attended my classes or courses in the past and found yourself here, please accept one free class or 10% discount on the next workshop or course.

More classes will be announced in the immediate future so please follow on social media, white list yogastef emails and please share with your network about this great offer!

Functional Anatomy of Yoga course _______________________ 17 or 18 Nov - 1 + 15 Dec 2018

Functional Anatomy of Yoga course _______________________ 17 or 18 Nov - 1 + 15 Dec 2018

Saturdays 17/11/2018 13:00-16:00, 01/12/2018 13:00-16:00 & 15/12/2018 13:00-16:00

Defining the 9 major joint complexes & bandhas. Clarifying the natural purpose of joint actions & possibilities

Physiological body in the context of asana. Benefits beyond the physical. Improving circulation without raising the heart rate.

Practicing in a way that builds upon the foundations to create a sense of harmony and connection whilst freeing yourself from challenging practice

Handstand workshop - Sunday 24th June 2018, Chorlton - 13:30-15:30


You too can stand on your hands

... with a little know-how and plenty of persistence

ticket type

Following on from hugely successful yoga Manchester handstand workshop in Withington this March, Stef will hold another group working on Handstands in one yoga studio Chorlton next month.

This workshop is intended for those who are looking to overcome obstacles be they fears, doubts or simply looking to refine technique and join together in a positive and motivational practice atmosphere.

So whether you're a part-time Yogi, CrossFit Trainer, former gymnast or just love being upside down, let's take this chance to get together and turn our practice upside down and any fears or doubts inside out!

No experience necessary. Equipment provided.

Please leave at least 2 hours after taking a light meal.

Please inform of any injuries before we begin. Parking available.

£15 adult

£10 concession / teacher's price

You can use two of your class pass credits or email for questions and other payment methods

Thanks so much! 

Namaste (on them hands)


Fight or flight... or freeze?

Have you ever thought "that wasn't like me" or "i can't believe i said that"? 

Do we always know when we're in the midst of a struggle? Or do we often unpick afterwards what was really happening during that moment of difficulty? Could we have been more reactive in the moment than we realised at the time? Thinking we are in total control of decision making is a common, or was a series of automated thought patterns really calling the shots?

In the next few minutes you will learn how and why we get temporarily torn out of our usual thinking and into these peculiar uncharacteristic states.

In every single moment, our mind is monitoring the situation for signs of threat. This is absolutely necessary for us as evolving beings but comes with the undesirable side effect of stress. Because this ancient part of the brain (limbik system, affectionately named as  lizard mind) worked in this way, it got us to this stage of development, i.e. it stopped our ancient relatives getting eaten or killed long enough to pass on the genes.

So obviously it has become a vital part of our genetics and survival to look out for threats and has remained an automatic function continuously pushing our buttons behind the scenes of our day to day experience.

What's important for us to realise is that threats that are imagined have almost the same effect on our nervous system, and that a lot of them are being triggered even when we don't realise it. A guy sees something that resembles a snake and has gone into fight and flight running before he even has time to see that's it's just rope.

Now we may sneer and think how reactionary he was but don't we all do this to a subtle degree? Perhaps we have a phobia or fear that we can't quite place the origin of however it prevents us from going to explore somewhere new or even just being comfortable in an environment where there is no immediate danger. Or more subtly, we may think a conversation is moving in a way that challenges our beliefs and that challenges our sense of well being, so we try to redirect what's being spoken of before we actually get to an important point that could help our understanding more. 

When our lizard brain recognises perceived threats, no matter how small, it begins to take a more controlling role in the experience and we move into creative shutdown. The heart rate begins increasing the pupils dilate, adrenaline begins to run through our blood and we get pumped for a fight, or ready to run for our lives, even when it's about something non life threatening, even non threatening, and shockingly, even when the trigger isn't real. And this makes decision making rash, and rushed. 

What makes things even more challenging is that fight and flight states are much slower to leave than they are to arrive, so when do begin this journey, it can feel like an uphill struggle, but as Ayya Khema alluded, if we only just learnt how to clean a house after living in it for many years, we'll be buried when we first begin to tidy up.

This isn't a very nice place to be. I've felt it more times than I care to have, that like a freezing blender just switched itself on inside my stomach and the head feels too small for the brain all of a sudden so I start to feel my heartbeat in my eyeballs. Perhaps even just the vivid description of fight and flight I mention here brings you a sense of it, or maybe it was enough to trigger it in your own body. 

And how about this? What if we have actually come to enjoy this state? Let's have a look at some popular stimulants, coffee, nicotine, they produce the fight and flight symptoms without even having to have the cognitive triggers! Why would we like it you ask? A deeper examination is for another post or two, but for simplicity, lets say for now, we like what's familiar, it has some comfort even though it's not always ideal. We have created a culture and society that operates under the illusion of fight and flight being the productive state, and stopping to consider any other way... well there just isn't time for that is there?

Well, the old Buddhist axiom, those who don't have time to meditate, need it the most. Our ambition makes us blind. Blind to the plain simplicity our body is often screaming out for us to listen to it. For the most part we do, we take a stretch when we feel really tight, or we go for a bit of fresh air or even a less clean stimulant when we would like to refresh our attention.

However, why wait until we absolutely need these things to react, can't we learn to be more proactive, preventative or tiresome states before they even warrant a remedy? Can we be more efficient, awake, ready without even having to set aside extra time to do it?

So to remedy this wild ride of symptoms into a friendlier harmonious balance and self control, I'm putting forth the practice of mindfulness (that's the bodily awareness kind as taught by Jon Kabat Zinn). Because as we get more comfortable in the stress state, as we recognise what's pushing our buttons we can be pushed around less by our lizard brain and make better informed choices.

And the best thing is, once we've taken time aside to learn how to be more mindful, it becomes automatic. A new self regulating background process that actually moves us away from stress states. When we learn to be more mindful and in tune with how the limbik system is working for us, not against us, we don't even need to remove threats to be peaceful and tranquil amongst them, whether real or otherwise. We can be happier and more productive people, better workers, family and community members and even help out others who haven't had the good fortune to recognise they're caught in a perpetual fight or flight state.

We can start to reform habits which let us see life as nourishing and comforting more and more, and less and less like a challenge or a series of battle we must undertake. We don't need to fight to stay on the winning side.

Brainfulness, a mindful translation

How does the idea of a full brain sound? Not particularly meditative perhaps...

As the term mindfulness is sounding more commonly and rousing interests amongst beginners and right through experienced meditators, the term itself isn't always seen as entirely helpful to inspire the method and effects the practice can bring.

It is a practice most famously delivered to the west by Vietnamese monk activist (and good pal of Martin Luther King), Thic Naht Hahn, via one of his students Jon Kabat Zinn who developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Another key proponent in the west would be the Insight Meditation Society founded in 1975. They showed us a way, a practice, and its for us to DO THE WORK, before we can really understand the subtle nuances of what it actually offers.

To understand a key point on where the practice of mindfulness comes from and what is meant by 'the mind' will help to simplify it. The word mind has picked up a lot of connotations in west which aren't so common to the eastern understanding. Now there are very subtle elements which differentiate when we are operating from the brain or the mind, and it seems to me that it's not such an easy switch to recognise when we're in the midst of it.

In eastern understanding, 'mind' isn't simply the brain but consists of our gut instinct or how we can wear our heart on our sleeve. In other words, many bodily systems constitute that which is known collectively as mind in the east, such as the sensory awareness and hormones, not simply the big grey blob safely tucked up in the skull. I've been taught that traditionally in the east, individual minds exists between the belly and the chest. How to begin bringing our awareness below the neck is not so particularly well understood, however is vital for peace of mind.

So to try and grapple an intellectual understanding of what mindfulness is is automatically self defeating, because until we have experienced our mind at work to its fullest throughout our bodies, we are trying to collect water without a vessel, we can do it, but it wont be nearly as tidy.

To know that the brain is but a small portion of what mind is traditionally known as, that it actually only serves the imaginative as well as regulatory forces is what mindfulness represents to me. To know that it's not in charge and that we aren't destined to get stuck up in there. It's a truth that becomes clearer as we can learn to sidestep its constant demand to be at the centre of attention. The brain has had to be fighting for our attention for us to survive, and its our opportunity now to adapt, to speed up our evolution, that we have all these higher abilities that raise us up from animals, but we don't need to rush into totally disconnecting from our roots. 

Good news, it's extremely simple to learn, it just takes a little intention, and a lifetime's practice. But just a little intention goes a long way to get back a sense of harmony, balance and depending on how much you give it; seeing every moment of life as a miracle.


I'm particularly looking forward to teaching more about this in upcoming posts as I prepare for another visit to Norway to lead class in Drobak and hold a mindful hot yoga workshop at Raw Yoga in Oslo.

Communicating Yoga - bringing yoga into the collective conscious

Communicating Yoga - bringing yoga into the collective conscious

yoga, pranayama & meditation workshop
Sat 21st Jan ‘17 15:00-16:30 @oneyogastudio Chorlton, Manchester
Deepen listening inward and outwardly

Restorative yoga pranayama & Dyad meditations. Djongzen practices holding group space for meditation, including beginners too; clearing social barriers allowing us to explore the depths of being our authentic selves