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

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You too can stand on your hands

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

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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 arein 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

Yoga Sutras - Understanding freedom, the state of kaivalya

"Along with detachment from the intellect comes the dissolution of any sense of agency, the illusion that we are the doer. There follows the destruction of the seeds of future karma and rebirth. From this destruction of all shackles and bonds arises the state of cosmic consciousness or kaivalya. "

Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy, Gregor Maehle, 2006

Interpretation of Sutra III:50.

Through supreme detachment toward even sovereignty and omniscience, the seeds of future karma are destroyed, which results in freedom (kaivalya).       III.50

 

I would like to simply ask you to read the book if you have an interest in the yogic path the enlightenment as prescribed by Patanjali's sutras. Gregor Maehle is blowing my mind right now. 

These levels of realisation are at best theoretical, certainly in my understanding and most other people too I can only imagine. I thought I was getting somewhere very deep in my practice when I first got into and started reading the Sutras, especially the philosophic chapters 3 & 4. But pinning more and more understanding reveals that what I thought I knew before was far lighter than the depth of understanding now.

So if this trend keep on, the complexity will grow inexorably beyond my understanding and wherever I get to will be always somewhere I look back later on and say, I'm not developing enough to understand this.

Well, taking from the above advice, the detachment would be that I don't NEED to understand it the way I think I do, simply the knowing now is of most importance, anything outside of now is inherently unknowable anyway.

You know, the same is true in asana. To only know what you can, hone the intellect on that. Stay in the present and you will know all there is to be known. The only thing that will drag you away from the present is a lack of faith, or some other unexpected manifestation of fear. It doesn't matter whether this isn't stretching or reaching this and that, or this bit is tighter than yesterday, these poses are infinite tools, not one use only.

The point of asana is to make the body supple, during a lifespan with asana we are always in the process of becoming more and more supple. I might never get my leg behind my head, well, good. Because in that case, if that was my goal in asana, I would only want to put it down to my shoulder or bum or wrap it round twice for my next goal wouldn't I? 

If i remove my sense of goals and achievement to the practice what does it become then? Pointless? I don't think so. A lot of the time in my practice I notice resistance more than desires. e.g. "ooh I'm getting tired now, maybe I'll skip this vinyasa" checking this panic escape response earlier and earlier, it loses power with each repetition. I can recognise the ego's complaints of fatigue and know that it's a very temporary complaint of the mind, and so often surely enough, a breath and the pose come and the doubt is eliminated sometimes quicker than it turns into thought. Of course with flexibility its a slightly different matter, we can simply ignore the complaints of the mind but use them as a basic and foundation for enquiry of the body. This is what yoga is more that continuing goals as we "complete" one pose and then the next variation.

Is this what is said by detachment? Doesn't sound like it huh? Sounds like the opposite. If I'm supposed to detach from sovereignty, then wouldn't this mean I gave up when the thought arose? Well no because it also says omniscience, so yeah, this sutra is talking about when yogis gain siddhis or special powers. Haha, way beyond.

Okay I did it again, went too deep in this thing. It's all theoretical at this point but thinking about the extremes, leads to insights along the path. Maybe the insight this time is that, there's always an extreme in theory, and not need ing to reach that with full self acceptance is the yoga. This totally fits the asana analogy, where we all know there's extremes best not attempted for the sake of health and wellbeing, not just theoretical fancy.

your yoga evolution retreat

TWO PROGRESSIVE YOGA SESSIONS & ONE MEDITATIVE PRACTICE 

DAILY INSIGHTS TO WIDEN AND INTEGRATE YOGA KNOWLEDGE INTO LIFE

Following through an evolving program of yoga sessions expand awareness and joyfulness found through practice. As yogas we practice tradition, here in this Mayan land honour the local beliefs while discovering reason and techniques for deeper self understanding