Coffee & Musings 7 – Flow

A quote on a purple background. "people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation." Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In the latest episode of Coffee & Musings I talk a little bit more about Flow. The theory behind Flow is that "people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation."  I read from the book Flow - by … Continue reading Coffee & Musings 7 – Flow

The Eight Limbs (part 2)

I've just released the 6th episode of Coffee & Musings on my Patreon page. In this episode I talk about the eight limbs of yoga, focusing on the final four limbs: Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses Dharana: Concentration meditation Dhyana: Absorption meditation Samadhi: Integration meditation I also start to discuss … Continue reading The Eight Limbs (part 2)

The Eight Limbs (part 1)

I've just released the 5th episode of Coffee & Musings on my Patreon page. In this episode I talk about the eight limbs of yoga, focusing on the first four to start with: Yama, Niyama, Asana, and Pranayama. The eight limbs comes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali which is often used as a guide … Continue reading The Eight Limbs (part 1)

Daily Affirmations

I wanted to share something that I’ve been trialling for the last two weeks, and that’s affirmations or self-affirmations. I’m pretty sure most of us have heard people talking about affirmations or at least seen it in films or on TV – perhaps we conjure up images of a person staring into a mirror repeating … Continue reading Daily Affirmations

I lost my connection to my practice.

This year has been incredibly challenging for me, and instead of using my practice to help me through it, I neglected it. I’m not just talking about asana (physical practice) here, I’m talking about my yoga practice in its entirety. As we move into this new month, I realise this isn’t a time for regret, … Continue reading I lost my connection to my practice.

Brahmacharya – “proper application of energy”

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We like to call it [Brahmacharya] "proper application of energy", because this idea helps guide a physical practice to the appropriate edge, spending energy where it's needed and not where it isn't. Sage Roundtree & Alexandra Desiato (Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses)

Brahmacharya on your yoga mat

Close up photo of a person practicing crow pose, Bakasana, on a rock near water.

On your yoga mat, this might show itself as being excessive in how often you practice, trying so many times to do an advanced posture that you injure yourself. Activity: The concept of excess can start to get very personal so as an activity, maybe just think about this yama? Have this idea in your … Continue reading Brahmacharya on your yoga mat

Brahmacharya (Nonexcess)

Various watercolour images accompanied by a description of Brahmacharya

The fourth of the Yamas is Brahmacharya, or Nonexcess. Moderation in all our actions. Brahmacharya does roughly translate as abstinence, and some people take this to be celibacy, however many prefer to think of this in terms of nonexcess. So basically, don’t have more than you need, don’t be excessive. Still partake in enjoyable things, … Continue reading Brahmacharya (Nonexcess)

Cultural Appropriation

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Cultural appropriation is stealing the intellectual, spiritual, cultural informational wealth of another group, such as we see happening with yoga today and for the last century. Susanna Barkataki - How to Practice Yoga Without Appropriating It (www.susannabarkataki.com) This is always a discussion that should be happening in yoga spaces but I'm specifically mentioning this now … Continue reading Cultural Appropriation

Asteya on your yoga mat

Image description: A person leans against a wall, checking their watch.

On your yoga mat, Asteya might show itself as wishing you could do a posture like the person next to you or wishing you had their figure. It could also mean showing up to class on time and respecting the time the teacher and other students are giving. Activity: Try and practice Asteya in your … Continue reading Asteya on your yoga mat

Asteya (nonstealing)

Various watercolour images accompanied by a description of Asteya

The third of the Yamas is Asteya, or Nonstealing. Not taking what does not belong to you. The obvious message here is ‘don’t steal stuff’. But this can also refer to other things too. You can ‘take’ other’s time and energy by taking advantage of them. You can desire something that someone else has that … Continue reading Asteya (nonstealing)

Satya on your yoga mat

Image description: A person kneeling during a workout.

On your yoga mat, Satya might show itself as not being honest about what you’re capable of on that day – resulting in not giving your mind and body what they need, or potentially pushing yourself to injury. Activity: Try and practice Satya in your next yoga class/work meeting/social occasion, be honest about how you’re … Continue reading Satya on your yoga mat

Truthfulness is partnered with nonviolence

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Truthfulness is partnered with nonviolence…We can appreciate this statement when we begin to practice speaking our truth without causing harm to others. As partners, truthfulness keeps nonviolence from being a wimpy cop-out, while nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a brutal weapon.Deborah Adele

Satya (truthfulness)

Various watercolour images accompanied by a description of Satya

The second of the Yamas is Satya, or truthfulness. Right communication through speech, writing, gesture and actions. Yes, this means telling the truth, but sometimes the truth can cause hurt which goes against Ahimsa, and Ahimsa always comes first. So, try to be truthful and honest where you can, with your words and actions, but … Continue reading Satya (truthfulness)

Ahimsa (nonviolence)

Various watercolour images accompanied by a description of Ahimsa

The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa, or nonviolence. Nonviolence towards others and ourselves, and a consideration for all living things. There is more to this than just “not getting in fights” – this means being kind and thoughtful when interacting with others, but also yourself. Your words and thoughts can be just as violent … Continue reading Ahimsa (nonviolence)

Measuring success

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After nearly 20 years of Ashtanga Yoga practice, I now measure my success by how long I'm able to keep my emotional centre spacious enough to be genuinely kind. By comparison, it's almost easy to get on the mat and bend and twist your body. In daily life, it is much harder to maintain a … Continue reading Measuring success

The Yamas

Various watercolour images accompanied by the names of the yamas

Yamas translates roughly as restraints and covers our attitudes toward our environment. The yamas are: Ahimsa (Nonviolence)Satya (Truthfulness)Asteya (Nonstealing)Brahmacarya (Nonexcess)Aparigraha (Nonposessiveness) I realise that at a first glance, you can see a lot of words starting with 'Non' - however, these guidelines, or restraints, are not about limiting your life, they are about opening up … Continue reading The Yamas

Yamas & Niyamas

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Recently my, physical/asana practice has been very limited - a combination of the house move and shoulder injuries means it's just been more difficult than usual. But this doesn't mean I've not been practicing yoga. I've spent 3 years practicing asana, so now it's really nice to dedicate some time to the other areas of … Continue reading Yamas & Niyamas

Where and how does the practice of yoga begin?

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"Where and how does the practice of yoga begin? Should we always begin on the physical level? I would say that where we begin depends on our personal interests. There are many ways of practicing yoga, and gradually the interest in one path will lead to another."T. K. V. Desikachar - The Heart of Yoga

Anyone can practice yoga

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"Anyone who wants to can practice yoga. Anybody can breathe; therefore anybody can practice yoga. But no one can practice every kind of yoga. It has to be the right yoga for the person." T. K. V. Desikachar - The Heart of Yoga Do you have a preferred type of yoga? What works for you?

Journaling & taking notes

An open notebook on a table and a person sits pen in hand, ready to write.

With the eight limbs, there is a lot of information to take in, especially as there are so many interpretations of them. As I read through various versions I always need a notebook handy to scribble notes, and (sorry for those who hate this) but underline and highlight passages in the book too. Do you … Continue reading Journaling & taking notes

Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser…

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As we've been introducing the eight limbs, you can see that there is so much more to yoga than the physical poses. This quote from T. K. V. Desikachar's The Heart of Yoga sums it up really well. "Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser, more able to understand things than they … Continue reading Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser…

Yoga is more than asana

An individual is sat on a yoga mat, eyes closed and looking calm.

As I'm introducing the eight limbs of yoga, you can probably see why the third limb, Asana (postures), is the limb that's most often portrayed and talked about, especially on social media. First, it is ideal for images as it's purely physical - how do you take photographs of concentration or breath work? Second, it's … Continue reading Yoga is more than asana

Pratyahara

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The fifth of the limbs is Pratyahara which is sense withdrawal or the restraint of senses. From this point on, the limbs are very new concepts to me, so I'll wait to go into more details until I'm more familiar with them myself.

Pranayama

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The fourth of the limbs is Pranayama which is breath control and the practice of breathing exercises. I've done a little bit of Pranayama work in my regular yoga class, and we practiced a few techniques in a workshop I attended at the Natural History Museum in London. Some of the practices made me feel … Continue reading Pranayama

Niyama, or the Niyamas

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The second of the limbs is Niyama, or the Niyamas. This translates roughly as 'observances' and includes our attitudes toward ourselves. The Niyamas also have 5 elements which I'll be covering later. When discussing the Niyamas here, I'll often be referencing the work of Deborah Adele and the book 'The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's … Continue reading Niyama, or the Niyamas

Yama, or the Yamas

A watercolour tree with the caption text included.

The first of the limbs is Yama, or the Yamas. This translates roughly as 'restraints' and includes our attitudes toward our environment. The Yamas have 5 elements which I'll cover in the future. When discussing the Yamas here, I'll often be referencing the work of Deborah Adele and the book 'The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring … Continue reading Yama, or the Yamas

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

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"In its exported manifestation, yoga has tended to focus on the physical aspect of the system of yoga, the Asanas, or stretching poses and postures, which most Western adherents of yoga practice in order to stay trim, supple and healthy. Patanjali himself, however, pays minimal attention to the Asanas, which are the third stage of … Continue reading The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Eight watercolour images of trees, with the text 'The eight limbs of yoga' at the top.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a series of 196 short statements (sutras) concerning yoga. I'll go into the sutras in more detail as I work my way through them in my own learning, but I first of all wanted to introduce the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which form part of the Yoga Sutras. Over … Continue reading Eight Limbs of Yoga

“…the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person.”

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"The essence of my father's teachings is this: it is not that the person needs to accommodate him-or herself to yoga, but rather the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person." T.K.V Desikachar - The Heart of Yoga. What would you like to learn to tailor, and adapt, to work for you within … Continue reading “…the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person.”

Accessible yoga classes

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This quote from T.K.V Desikachar's The Heart of Yoga sums up what I'd love to create with my future classes. "There are many stories I could tell, all of which show the necessity for an individual approach to yoga. By this I do not mean that I have to give only private lessons, but I … Continue reading Accessible yoga classes

“But yoga affects the mind, primarily, and each person’s mind is different.”

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Another quote from T.K.V Desikachar's The Heart of Yoga which has stood out: "The way yoga is taught nowadays often gives the impression that there is one solution to everyone's problems and one treatment for every illness. But yoga affects the mind, primarily, and each person's mind is different." T.K.V Desikachar - The Heart of … Continue reading “But yoga affects the mind, primarily, and each person’s mind is different.”

“The starting point is never the teacher’s needs but those of the student”

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As part of my pre-training reading this quote from T.K.V Desikachar's 'The Heart of Yoga' really resonated with me. What makes my father's yoga teachings unique, is his insistence on attending to each individual and to his or her uniqueness. If we respect each person individually, it naturally means we will always start from where … Continue reading “The starting point is never the teacher’s needs but those of the student”