A Sunday morning to delve a little more deeply into this mindful yoga practice (see Yin Yoga for more info). The session will revolve around the hips and spine with the aim to help you feel more stable and at ease in your meditation pose.
Sunday 31 January, 10 am – 12 noon (via Zoom) £12.50 You will also receive a recorded version of this session Please contact Elles to book.
Three weeks of early morning yoga and meditation Monday to Friday 7.30 to 8.00 am Starting 11 January(via Zoom)
A New Year: a fresh start, full of potential. Here we are, stepping into 2021 with our best foot forward, but when the good cheer fades and the fairy lights have been stored the reality may suddenly feel like too big a challenge. Especially this year, with Covid measures compounding the winter chill, we might be tempted to just lock our sensitive selves away for the while…
Let’s not though: let’s be bold and keep our doors open regardless. Meditation is one of the best ways to do exactly that. With the help of our yoga community we can keep the inner light burning bright and wake up to the potential of each day as it comes. Think of it as your spiritual support bubble. All you have to do is to turn up and tune in.
Turn Up, Tune in = 1 part yoga + 2 parts meditation 10 minutes of wake up stretch 10 minutes of meditation 10 minutes of meditation
Depending on your time limits or interest you can choose to come for 10, 20 or 30 minutes, and as many days of the week as you like.
* You will receive many tips and helpful articles to point the way. * Instructions during the session will be kept to a minimum so as not to intrude too much upon the silence of our pristine morning. * One gong in between the two meditations to signify the half way point. * On Fridays you can stay on for a Q&A, and some more details/suggestions on the stretches we do. * Suitable for all abilities, whether you are new to meditation or not. Both the wake up stretch and the meditation can be done on a chair.
Costs for the three weeks: £15 for students who also do a yoga class (= £1 per session) £30 for ‘Turn Up, Tune in’ only (= £2 per session)
To signify the end of a yoga or meditation session I often ring a bell or gong three times. I intend no specific meaning with that, except to give you a few moments to make the transition to the rest of your day and perhaps appreciate what you have just given to yourself.
That said, it can also be nice to use the three bells as a moment for affirmation or gratitude, in which case it’s good to know where the sounding of them originally comes from.
The gestures that accompany the ringing of the gongs or bells are an ancient tradition. In Buddhist circles you will often see people bring their hands together at the forehead, at the heart and then bow down. The three gestures have a certain symbolic meaning and are sometimes accompanied by a mantra or a prayer. In effect they are a summary, a reminder, of what is most essential on the spiritual path (or in other words, the path of happiness).
Much of this can be quite mystifying but over time I started to boil them down to a few simple words that I can understand. For example: Clear mind Open heart This body, this earth
Or even simpler: See Listen Feel
Their significance lies not in any belief, religion or holiness. It is a recognition of what is fundamental to our contentment in life, of what is real and possible in our existence, of what is most essential in the barest way, independent of circumstances, be they political or personal.
A clear mind: Unobstructed by compulsive thought, by judgements and fears, a mind that distinguishes between the continuous internal gossip and the quieter wordless waters that lie beneath. A mind that is perceptive, intuitive, conscious.
An open heart: The sense of connectedness to others, of care and kindness, beauty and joy. A heart that allows, listens and embraces all.
This body, this earth: Honouring that which makes our experience possible. Without this body, this earth, where would we be, how would we feel? A sense of gratitude. Recognising that which is greater than me, that I am only one of many, that we are one, and one with this earth. A sense of humbleness. A surrender to the fact that so much in life is beyond my control, a reminder to trust it instead.
With or without the accompanying gestures, see for yourself if this is helpful to you, find your own words.
Or no words at all. Simply let the three gongs be just what they are: the sound that emanates from a stick striking a bowl.
Here’s the newspaper cutting I told you about in our Zoom class yesterday, which is on the wall in my yoga room.
It says “90 year old in the yoga headstand” with “And, done your yoga today?” written beneath.
My housemate put it up in my room when I lived in Cologne in the 90’s. He had been showing me a few yoga poses that he’d learnt from his father, so I’d only just started practicing. There was no such thing as a yoga class in those days, not even in all of Cologne, so I just picked up bits and pieces from various sources.
The message was clear: if you want to be able to stand on your head when you’re 90, you have to do your practice now.
I thought that was a perfectly good aspiration to have in life so I kept up with it. I also realised how profound the method really was and that I still had a lot to learn.
Meanwhile yoga classes started popping up everywhere and I attended many of them, though my main practice stayed on my own mat at home. By this time I’d moved back to Amsterdam and this mat was made of two thick wonky pieces of black rubber glued together. It couldn’t be rolled up easily so it was out all the time (I lived in a bedsit the size of my lounge now).
Many years later, by now in England, I remember being surprised at the amount of people teaching yoga classes when to my mind they had really only just started practicing. How was that possible? I’d always thought of myself as an amateur and a beginner, there was so much still to understand.
I was working as a personal tutor at Cirencester College then, helping students make decisions for their future, and one day I heard my own counsel: If these people can teach yoga, why can’t you?
I graduated from teacher training in 2012 and as they say, the rest is history.
I suppose technically I am a professional now and no longer an amateur, but I still consider myself a beginner really and perhaps I always will. In fact I’d encourage anyone to keep approaching yoga as a beginner. After all, each and every moment is fresh and gives you the opportunity to experience something new, something different. If we let it.
The new series of Yin Yoga workshops will focus on the fascinating physical structure of fascia, the web of connective tissue that gives us our shape and holds us together and can be so very clearly felt in Yin Yoga, particularly in Somatic Yin Yoga. More info here.