Saturday, 21 April 2018

Ayurveda for Menopause

Ayurveda is a nature based medicine that is often termed as 'Yoga's sister science'. Yoga is an in depth practice of looking after the mind and Ayurveda offers advice on how to look after the body. Both disciplines have many over-lapping practices such as cleansing kriyas/activities, body work such as breathing exercises, yoga poses, meditation and dietary recommendations for creating optimum health. 

Ayurveda and Yoga view the World in terms of the five elements (Space; Wind; Fire; Water; Earth) which are also linked with Yoga's chakra system. These five elements are symbols of the natural world around us and the energetic world within.

These five elements create an ecosystem both externally and internally. When one element is disturbed the whole ecosystem is affected.

We can imagine a scenario using the World we see around us:

Earth = A lush green soil filled field of flowers, plants, grass, trees, insects and animals
Water = A river running down the hill leading to the field and into a lake below the field
Fire = The warmth and light of the sunshine basking the field and everything in it in light and heat
Wind = A fresh breeze blowing across the grass, moving the trees, flowers, caressing and bringing air and breath to the many plants and animals upon the field
Space = The area that holds open the possibility for the soil to move and shift, the grass and flowers and trees to grow into, the insects and animals to move and fly to and fro and the open spaces available for the heat and light to flow into and the wind to blow through.

In the scenario above, if the stream dries up or overflows and floods the surrounding fields it will affect either the fire element (cooling the temperature of the surrounding area) or the earth (soaking the soil and associated things) first. After this, other elements are also affected if balance isn't restored.

If the sun starts blazing relentlessly on the surrounding area or is blocked from reaching the other elements it will affect either the Wind element (creating thermals) or the Earth element (scorching the ground and animals) first. If balance isn't restored it will start to affect the other elements accordingly.

In our own bodies, we can view the internal systems this same way. First of all, simply:

Earth = bones, muscles, etc
Water = blood, lymph, etc
Fire = digestive enzymes, hormones
Wind = nervous impulses
Space = intercellular spaces, etc

and then complexly:

Earth = Immune systems, Lymphatic systems, etc
Water =  Adrenal glands and energy system, etc
Fire = Heart and Cardiovascular systems, Sinus, ears, nose, throat etc
Wind = Thyroid gland and metabolism, etc
Space = Sex organs and reproductive systems, etc

When we understand the systems and their relationship between each other, helpful changes can be made via yoga, concentrated food supplements, diet, lifestyle advice and massage and instead of constantly adding supplementation and support, the underlying problems can be attended to until the 'ecosystem' regains its own momentum and starts self regulating and self-healing once more (as it is designed to do).

Menopause is a natural change and an elemental change. In menopause, the Space and Wind element balance is undergoing an age related change. The ecosystem of a woman's body goes into an adaptation phase over this time. If a woman's health was robust before the 'change' then menopause can be relatively symptom free. But if stress, imbalance and poor health occurred before the menopause or along with it, it can be a rough ride!

In an Ayurvedic consultation, your Ayurvedic practitioner will assess your current inner ecosystem via the symbols of the five elements and look for areas of chronic and acute imbalance. Natural remedial action will be suggested via the five ayurvedic remedies including yoga, diet, lifestyle, concentrated food supplements and massage.

Because menopause is considered a space and wind element adaptation process, symptoms that can occur first are in the areas of Fire, Earth, Water and Space. This can cause hormonal, digestive symptoms along with hydration and immune issues, structural changes and strength changes along with changes in the mind. As you can see, this can lead to a very long list of symptoms! 

Some remedies that could be beneficial alongside a traditional Ayurvedic consultation and advice are:

Insomnia/anxiety/lack of confidence:
  • Chywanprash
  • Oil pulling
  • Triphala
  • Full body warm oil massage
  • Yin Yoga sessions

Hot flushes/Inflamed joints/Anger and Irritability

  • Warm oil foot massages
  • Daily aloe vera juice
  • Rose water face sprays
  • Singing and chanting yoga class
  • Relaxing times with good friends!

Weight gain/Water retention/Lethargy

  • Add pippali (long pepper) to meals
  • Fast from 6pm - 10am every 24 hours 
  • Strong vinyasa flow
  • Warm oil abdominal massage
  • Challenging your mind and body

For more information on how to implement the above, please book a consultation via

Prices and information on Ayurvedic therapies

Legal Disclaimer:  By Sonia Welch 2018

This blog/post pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog/pst, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read in this blog/post or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or visit A&E immediately. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Getting your zzzzzs

Getting your zzzzzzzzzzs is a at the foundation of how your are feeling.

Ayurveda states ‘The three pillars of good health are food, sleep and the proper functioning of Svadisthana chakra’ - Charaka Samhita.Sutrasthana.11.35 (with translation)

Wow! This is such great information for those of us who are working on feeling better, staying well and, Ayurveda’s specialist subject, aging well!

Ayurveda (and yoga), rather than being defined dogmatic rules about what should or shouldn’t be done or said or experienced, are instead teachers regarding our relationship to the things around us and within us.

Last week’s article looked into using good food and good eating practice’s to strengthen that ‘pillar’ supporting our foundation of health. This week I’m looking into how Ayurveda views sleep and what it recommends to get your zzzzzzzzzzzzzs.

As you can imagine, finding the cause of your sleeplessness is the first port of call. Removal of the cause is the first line of treatment in Ayurveda. This part of the treatment is called Nidana Parivarjana. This is the part that most of us have already done a thousand times over if we are struggling to sleep. But it's still an important mention.

Cut down on caffeine

Cut down on sugar

Reduce computer time during the day

Stop work 4 hours before bed-time

Start a relaxing bed time routine

Reduce noise and disturbance during hours of sleep

Adjust work patterns and schedules to allow for the best possible (for your work responsibilities) sleep/wake balance.

Make your bedroom a comfortable temperature

Meditate each day to reduce mental tension

Exercise each day to reduce physical tension

Sleep is as important to our health as our diet say the ancient Ayurvedic texts! And sleep is one of the 13 natural urges of the body that shouldn’t be suppressed according to Ayurveda.

In particular, suppression of the urge to sleep when you are tired or by missing important hours of sleep or getting to bed too late each night are yawning, general malaise, drowsiness, headaches and heaviness in the eyes. If you are feeling one or more of these symptoms continuously, read on.

The remedy for missed sleep and the symptoms of missed sleep is, as would be expected, sleep! But, if you could do this you already have, so Ayurveda also states that massage is your first port of call to both remove the symptoms of poor sleep AND to help you to sleep better in the future.

Ayurvedic therapy has specific types of massage that are most important in the debilitating condition of insomnia. The most important treatments for insomnia follow:

1.Shiro Abhyanga - warmed herbal oil applied to the head, neck and shoulders. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for chronic fatigue, headaches, neck stiffness and burning/tired eyes.

2.Hasta Abhyanga - warmed herbal oils applied to the hands. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for IBS symptoms and constipation along with sciatic pains.

3.Prishta Abhyanga - warmed herbal oils applied to the back. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for IBS symptoms and for people who can’t sleep because of stress.

4.Karna Purana - warmed herbal oil applied inside the ears. This ayurvedic treatment is followed by a warm oil face massage and is good for low back pain and sciatic as well as tinnitus.

5.The King of Treatments is Shirodhara. It is a stream of warm oil massage applied to the head via an Ayurvedic Shirodhara stand and pot followed and preceded by warm oil massage to the head, neck and shoulders. This King of Treatments is good for a many varied types of symptoms and your Ayurvedic practitioner should recommend a short detox before your treatments begin.

So, if sleeping is such a fine remedy for health, you might think that catching up sleep in the day instead is a very enjoyable and therapeutic option when there’s time. As with all things, for some it is and for some it isn’t.

For those who sleep regularly during the day when the body doesn’t require it, the symptoms of heavyness, headache, loss of digestive power, nausea, rhinitus, coughing and over-all congestion may start to occur over time.

But day-sleep is recommended if you are studying to excess, travelling long distances and for those who are convalescing. It is also recommended for the very young and very old and those who are injured and weak and those who are suffering from fear, grief and excess anger.

AND we all get to enjoy day-sleep in the Summer with no consequences! YES! Long lounging sunny summer days coming ahead!…… Make sure you get those day-sleeps in come July/August.

So, what is the remedy for this other than booking regular massages? Self massage over the marma points that refresh the body into a better state.

Here are a few points to use. Warm some sesame oil and rub these points in a circular rhythm each evening before bed.

1.3rd eye point - between the eyebrows

2.Netri marma point - centre of the forehead

3.Simanta - crown of the head

4.Talahrdya marma - both palms of hands and both soles of feet

5.Gulpha - outer ankles

A fantastic herbal remedy for stress related tensions, insomnia and nervousness is Brahmi. Brahmi is sweet herb that is considered a brain tonic and helps the body to relax without the heaviness of many other insomnia remedies (this means that it is easy to digest). Check with your Ayurvedic practitioner to see if it is the right remedy for you and if it is compatible with your current health regime/condition and/or supplements/prescriptions.

Good sleep and good health!

Sonia x

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Embracing the Broken

Never let anyone else tell you what your yoga practice should be. It is by you, for you. For me, yoga used to be about discovering more strength, more flexibility, more positivity. It was about feeling more, being more, experiencing more.

Then, I got sick. 

My yoga practice became about getting well, being better, banishing pain. It was about finding solutions, discovering answers and returning to the previous, better version of myself.

As the pain and sickness continued year after year my yoga became about 'hugging in', protection of self, staying still, sustaining energy and dropping out of the drama.

This yoga isn't very glamorous. It's not exciting to watch or photograph. It is small, imperceptible, personal and usually involves a very bad hair day. There may be movement....or not. Stillness may be about pain. Meditation may be about surviving. Asana may be about forgiving the body and its weakness.

During this time I realised that yoga isn't there to heal my body, necessarily. It is there to help me learn to carry Prana within my broken-ness. Even a broken vessel can carry a small amount of life-giving water within it and so it was with my practice. Each asana, meditation, breath work, however broken, would carry a tiny amount of Prana within it. And this became my practice.

For me, the pain continued on. For 40 hours a week for 8 years I lay in bed devastated, weeping with pain. For most of the rest of the week I entered a recovery mode, able to pretend to be capable and whole but limping underneath and fearful of the next bout. And then, of course, there were the good days! Unbelievable joy and gratitude would pour through me and out of me as if the past pains were a dream and my body and mind were returned to me in full.

My yoga has now become a way for me to 'Embrace the Broken'. Even the small amount of Prana that I carry from moment to moment is used to sing my song. Not literally, luckily for everyone around me, but as an artistic expression of my spirit. I realised what yoga had been doing for me all that time. I had been waiting to be healed from the pain, from the body that wouldn't work properly, from the mind that couldn't think and the healing had been happening all the time in my relationship with myself and with others. Those who had looked after me, been with me, asked after me. My heart was becoming vulnerable and my spirit, whilst sitting in my broken body, had had time to remember the past and the path to this very moment. My scattered self had been brought back into the fold and both heart and spirit had been inexplicably changed. Never to be the same as they were again.

Will my body ever recover and 'get well'? I don't know. But if my heart keeps opening and my spirit keeps expressing I'll probably get to the point where I won't care either way.

.......and so, the yoga continues to change form, sequence, content, feeling, motivation, results. Finding the best way to support me practice by practice.

Never let anyone else tell you what your yoga practice should be. It is by you, for you. 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Yoga Teachers!

photo from River Room, Halton

'A law of nature is not a formula drawn up by a legislator, but a mere summary of observed facts. Things do not act in a particular way because there is a law, but we state the 'law' because they act in that way. 

- Joseph McCabe. The Existence of God

Elemental Design in Yoga Practice

Each Element (Ether, Wind, Fire, Water and Earth) is a symbol for the World around us and the World within us, both subtle and obvious.

The Earth Element is a symbol of the ground upon which we walk; the legs with which we walk with and the nurturing, loyal and committed state that it is possible to experience with the mind.

Each Element, like the World around us and within us, is in relationship with each of the other Elements. This delicate interplay of Prana (energy) has a rhythm and reason which is seen in Nature via the seasons, the way night follows day, the phases of the moon and all other observances of Natural Law.

In yoga asana, as we stretch into the tightness, breath into the breathless and energise the weakness we are also doing the same on the level of the mind, albeit in a more subtle realm.

When working with the Water Element Flow above, the practitioner's mind can explore their inner 'water world'. A creative, imaginative introspection into the deep mystery of the unknown. The way we move in a Water Element Flow impels us to search for our truth, ask and question our motivations. It connects us to our sexual energy. It allows introversion and helps to resent any attempt of other thoughts to intrude upon this moment of private practice. It helps build patience and perseverence and allows adaptation to newness. 

But, this foray into a different way of thinking, moving and breathing for you (or not) has other benefits.......

Nature's laws diagrammed via the Ayurvedic Elemental Wheels show that this Watery change of movement and then mind helps when you are feeling over-sensitive, unconfident or lost for a way out of a fix or problem (conditions of Low Ether Element) or if your are in a state where only perfection will do and you are unable to express your feelings (conditions of High Wind Element).

No one movement or one flow is a cure all or panacea for all ills but rather a process of 'peeling the onion' of the mind's many layers and helping to start a process which will ultimately undo the mental habits and patterns that keep us from experiencing the moment at hand. 

The Five Element practices are such a rewarding way to work for both self practice and during 121 sessions, workshops and themed classes.

If you'd like to keep reading about the Five Elements as a teaching tool, just watch out for the posts that begin 'Yoga Teachers!' and keep an eye out for the next 'Elemental Design for Yoga Teachers' workshop at

Friday, 19 January 2018

Yoga Teachers!

5 key elements that keep yoga teachers delivering fantastic class content week after week with ease.

What are these five key elements’? 

You may already be using the elements in a seasonal way in your yoga teaching! Do you say to your class as Spring bursts into life ‘Spring is the time to get moving, detox, shed your winter skin and make movements that help to release the Winter chill’? Even if you don’t know the details of Elemental Yoga, this advice is based on the Five Ayurvedic Elements and the Ayurvedic Elemental Wheels of Creation, Destruction, Support and Control.

The Five Elements are Ether, Wind, Fire, Water and Earth.

Other than expanded class content and inspirational class planning ideas, why might knowing the five elements and the ayurvedic wheels be the most important thing for yoga class planning? It’s easy to be left with a lack of commitment to our class plans and even a lack of confidence in our class plans when our we don’t find them personally stimulating, interesting and full of possibilities AND know that the foundation upon which they are built on is rock solid. I know what it’s like to think ‘is this really the best way to pull together a ‘detox your inner you’ workshop or a ‘winter meditation flow’ theme or even a ‘low back pain 6 week course’ or a 121 with a student who is asking for a great sequence to improve his/her IBS symptoms. Understanding the elements can free all the knowledge that you have accumulated over years of yoga teaching and/or help you to ‘file’ your new learning in a way that you always pull out the right yoga-info for the right moment.

A good friend of mine was teaching her seasonal yoga class and explaining to her class that as it was Winter, they were going to slow down and draw into their centre - calming body and mind. A particularly inquisitive student asked why they would be slowing down in Winter when it was cold and the body needed movement to warm up. This teacher knew that she had planned the forward fold sequence to match the instrospective darkening of the Winter season, but she was lacking the ‘element story’ that would answer EVERY question that could be asked or wondered. She was left feeling uncertain about her class plan and even the information about her ‘Winter Calm’ workshop she had planned for the weekend ahead. She worried ‘What if there where more questions regarding the content?’. Understanding the Elements leaves no stone unturned when understanding your yoga content choices and leads to a feeling of confidence and ease with both planning and delivering the message in class.

When you understand the Elemental Wheels of Creation, Support, Control and Destruction, you will never feel without inspiration, creativity or confidence in your Seasonal Yoga Classes, 121’s, workshop themes, remedial classes or online yoga video content again.

Let’s take a longer look at the Elemental Wheel of Support and how to use it as a Seasonal Class!

The Elemental Wheel of Support looks like this:

And it is called ‘ALAMBACHAKRA

Each of the Elements ‘supports’ the next one in line.

Ayurveda in Season


The ancient ayurvedic texts state that any excess accumulations in the body are liquified by rising temperatures and this melting action has a disturbing effect on agni (digestive power). CS.SU.6:22 – 26 (with translation)
Spring is linked with the Element Ether. Ether is the element of potential energy. You feel your energy is like a match that is waiting to be lit or a car spinning its wheels before take off. Your energy is there driving and expanding but it hasn’t been used yet! In order to support your student’s energy in class it is wise to use a Water based class.

This is the time to ask your students to be creative and find their own way a little. Let them try things and explore without huge long diatribes of explanation. A great thing to explore in Spring is use of all the limbs! Get your students up to standing poses and use the arms and legs right the way to the fingertips to the toes to explore their internal rivers of circulation. Try a flowing Warrior 1, 2 and 3 sequence including a balance sequence to feel the rivers of flow! 

The remedial recommendation in Spring is called ‘ruksana’ or ‘drying’. During Spring, the most important thing is to keep the exit routes open and flowing in order to allow the natural detox (drying) to have a good result. Our Water practices are about keeping the exits open, the flow going and internal cleanse (cell waste being removed) functioning well.

Early Summer 

The ancient Ayurvedic texts state that during the time of the Early Summer the sun evaporates the moisture of the earth by its rays. You do not suffer from any diseases in this season if you practice a seasonal regime. Physical exercise should be given up during this season (this means no sweating and excess/challenging movement!). Daytime naps are appropriate in an cooled environment. CS.SU6:27 – 32 (with translation)

Early Summer is the Element of Fire. BANG! Your match lights or your car screeches forward accelerating faster and faster. You are challenging your edges and finding new ground and you notice something about yourself you never knew was there. A light has gone on. A transformation has occurred!! During the Early Summer you can use an Ether based class to bring balance.

Don’t increase the heat with crazy fast flows and core work! Bring the Ether element to class via neck release work, gorgeous heart-opening back-bends, voice-work, Ujjayi instruction (right from the basics) for beginners, chanting, kirtan and  laughter yoga to open and use the throat chakra in class. 

The recommended remedial Ayurvedic recommendation in Early Summer is to refresh. In Ayurveda practices are given for this refreshing effect. The Ether Flows are an ideal way to work during the Early Summer. 

Late Summer 

In the ancient Ayurvedic texts it is written that the body and digestion are weakened during the period of dehydration. It is weakened even further if there is a lot of rain during the season. The digestive power is affected and, consequently, it is advisable to benefit the ‘agni’ with medicinal practices. CS.SU6:33 – 40 (with translation)
Late Summer is the Element of Earth. The big drama, hilarity, sparks and heat and excitement has unfolded and you are left with a happy feeling of the fun and warmth still with you but the adrenaline is gone and you feel calm, warm, still and peacefully relaxed. This Season is balanced by a Fire element class.

Invite in fun and a sense of exploration and challenge. Be mindful that you are not creating a sweaty, hard-core, gym-type class but your classes should be great fun, challenging and warming. A great way to do this is to invite your students to dive into their core work. Core work is challenging, hard-work AND can be surprisingly stress-busting when guided skillfully.

The Ayurvedic recommendations in Late Summer are medicines which increase the power of the digestion. In Ayurveda practices are given for their effect on agni. The Fire Flows increase the power of the digestion in the Late Summer.


In the Ancient Ayurvedic texts it is written that during Autumn excess heat, which has accumulated (during the previous seasons), now becomes inflamed.
CS.SU.6:41 – 48 (with translation)

Autumn is the Element of Wind. Now you are looking for what to do next. Searching. Watching. Sensing. Every part of your mind and senses and body is alert and ready. You are a radar for where to turn your attention next. An Earthy class is great for Autumn.

Allow a feeling of grounding into the classroom. Slow the class down a bit without letting it get boring or stale. A great way to do this is to keep the class fun and exciting using props, blankets, straps, chi balls and blocks to bring the Earth element up to the student and your student down to the Earth. Include delicious hip openers into a grounding seated sequence.

We learn that the Ayurvedic recommendation in Autumn is to treat excess heat without chilling the body. In Ayurveda foods and medicines are given during Autumn for their ‘stambhana’ (containing) effect. The Earth flows have a stambhana effect upon the body during Autumn.

In the ancient Ayurvedic texts it is written that during the Winter months the digestive power of a human being possessing good health and strength is enhanced due to the external cold and how it restrains the heat inside the body and does not let it out. The internal heat increases in the digestion making it stronger so it is capable of digesting any food substance irrespectively of its heaviness and the quantity ingested. 
If you do not feed this strong digestion and it does not get the proper fuel, the digestive fire affects the nutritive fluids of the body, the digestive fire consumes the tissues of the body (autolysis), and this will cause the mind and the colon to be aggravated. CS.SU.6:9 – 18 (with translation)
Winter is the Element of Water. You start to get a sense of what you are looking for and you find there is a stream of possibilities; a river that leads where you are going; a sea of knowledge that you are to be basking in. You dive in and go with this flow that is just right for you. You are banking your winnings too! Connect with your students and provide a Wind Element class. Use the power of the Wind Element to nourish the Water Element by helping create flow of hydration throughout the body:

Think about spine length and making room between every single vertebrae. Think about moving the joints with a traditional yoga practice such as pavanamuktasana series 1-3. Give time for your students to STOP and connect to each pose and THINK about what they are doing and feeling. A great way to do this is to use mudra and explain each mudra and to incorporate lots opening and closing arm movements. Add in bhastrika and a variety of pranayama for beginners (instruct basic styles of breathing and work on breath with pose - basic vinyasa).

The remedial recommendation in Winter is to improve nourishment and lubrication. In Ayurveda medicines are given in Winter for their brmhana/nourishing and snehana/lubricating effect. The Wind flows both nourish and lubricate the body during Winter by circulating and delivering the important Water element to the whole body.

Each of the Elements are key when learning how to develop and design classes that balance the seasonal effects within the bodies of our students. The Support Wheel above is a great way to lead the student into their Seasonal work and it is lines up perfectly with Ayurveda’s seasonal recommendations or ‘Rtucharya’ from the ancient texts.

When we learn about the 'Four Ayurvedic Elemental Wheels' we can see the ways that good health and poor health are created Element by Element and understand how to work better with our 121 clients . It also becomes fun, exciting and easy to design themed classes, fresh, powerful seasonal content and remedial yoga therapy workshops such as ‘yoga for stress’ ‘yoga for low back pain’ ‘yoga for anxiety’ ‘yoga for immunity’ ‘yoga for good digestion’ ‘yoga for creating energy’ and so on.

If you're interested in learning more, please book in for the 'Elemental Yoga Design' workshop with me here!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

3 Top YogaVeda Tips for Picking Your Perfect New Year’s Resolution (and why it shouldn’t be diets and detox!)

1. Don’t think ‘wha’ ever’. Grab that resolution by the Christmas balls! When you say wha’ ever to your new years resolutions you throw away an opportunity that Nature gives you to plant a seed.

Yes, it’s growing season! Nature has provided a dark womb under the earth so that you can harvest your ‘crops’ later and, as Nature intended, you have this opportunity within also.

Following your bliss is a great way to contact that which would benefit you. What is it that makes you smile? What do you like to spend your time doing? What area of your life felt ‘left out’ last year? For now, just put this intention into your daily yoga practice by writing it out and putting it under your mat. Take it with you to your yoga class and do the same. Then, as you practice, (literally) breathe it into life over the next three months.

The Late Winter has the quality of the Water element within it. The primary quality of water is a cohesiveness that binds and bonds. This is a great time of year to ‘stick’ to something…..even though, right now, this something is just an idea!

2. If your New Year’s resolution isn’t in line with your best dreams for yourself, it reflects what is going on with your thinking the rest of the year. New year is not a time to stop dreaming and start doing. In fact, this is just what you shouldn’t do.

During the previous Early Winter months your attention started to move inwards naturally and your mind takes on a more reflective attitude. As Late Winter arrives this reflective attitude has given some gifts. You may have realised some things about yourself that you were too busy to see during Spring, Early and Late Summer and Autumn.

This insight is exactly what you will want to bring into our New Year! But don’t stop here. Take this insight (and if it hasn’t arrived yet, it will) and foster it into a ‘resolve’. A resolve is more than an insight. A resolve is a commitment

Our lives have value, so our resolutions should too! Think of 12 different values that are meaningful to you, such as:

Self reliance

(pick from these and/or any other hundreds of values that come up for you!) ….. and use a few that you would like to bring into your life in 2018. Now, when you make your New Year’s resolution, let it be about bringing three of your most important values into your life with every opportunity that happens to come your way.

3. A lot of times you may think of a New Year’s resolution in terms of cutting something out. Don’t make this mistake and miss the fact that adding something in is a much more powerful practice.

Winter is a time when the three functional energies that direct circulation, digestion and protective measures (vata,  pitta and kapha) are balanced. But if you don't 'feed the fire' with nourishing and building foods and seasonal lifestyle changes you may find Vata dosha aggravation causing sleeplessness, worry, constipation, dry skin and a feeling of being disconnected. When you cut things out of your life you get the feeling of 'less than' rather than 'more than'. This is not a strong place to be standing in in the New Year! But, if you add in value and nourishment instead you will feel more sated and secure. Much better!

So, as well as adding via values, you can also add in nourishment this New Year rather than dieting and detoxing. A lot of people feel that detoxing is dieting and dieting is detoxing. Same same. But, dieting is primarily about taking less calories in than we burn and, subsequently, losing weight. And detoxing is about opening up the elimination channels in the body and we can gain or lose weight at this point depending on which one our body needs to get healthier.

A detox is an 'assist' for the body's natural cleansing process - which it is doing all by itself all day every day - with a burst of activity early morning and late evening and in Spring and Autumn. So, it makes sense to let Nature suggest the rhythm for the detox ......which is not January.

January is a time for nourishing the body and gentle but persistent daily exercise/asana, which is also very nourishing (not to the point of sweating). 


Wake up and drink 1 - 2 glasses of hot water with a splash of cold first thing. Add a slice of lemon if you like.

Clean tongue. Use a tongue scraper - back to front.

Gargle (natural mouthwash).

Splash eyes with water (warm in cold months).

Gandusha and Kavala. Hold and 'swish' alternatively some sesame oil in mouth for 1 - 5 minutes and then spit out (coconut oil is not recommended as it is cooling and not cleansing).

Abhyanga - Lightly oil body (or at least face, belly, low back and feet) with sesame oil and wash off with a warm shower before getting on with day.

Eat seasonally or for your Vkrti/doshic imbalance (not for your Prakrti/body-type) - do not exert or sleep after eating.

Eat your (seasonal or remedial) main meal at midday


Evening - Relax and meditate if daytime work physical. Exercise if daytime work sedentary.

5-7pm light evening meal

Prayer or meditation

10pm - 11pm bedtime

And may all your dreams come true!

Look out for the new Sunday class in the New Year.
Full schedule for Early Winter Yoga Practices here

Friday, 22 December 2017

3 common mistakes yogis make that keeps them struggling with creating a home yoga practice (and how to avoid these forever!)


1. Have you been trying to show up to your home yoga practice under the watchful eye of a rigid internal dictator shouting ‘If I don’t practice, nothing will change!’ ‘Well, I’ve blown it again. Well done me. Another morning wasted’ ‘I don’t know why I even try?’ ‘I’ll get back to it tomorrow but I’ll be really angry at myself if I make any sort of sorry excuse one more time!’?

Sometimes, this works for a little while, but under this sort of regime there is always a coup in the end! Why on earth would you want to spend time each day with this sort of personality. This approach is no good. Not practicing would be a more mindful practice than bringing this sort of quality onto your yoga mat.

Discipline is a funny word. It has all sorts of negative connotations such as hardship and harshness but the root of the word comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil, which also provided the source of the word disciple. This is a much softer way to come to your practice. In your home practice, you are your own teacher and your own pupil. The relationship should be developed over time and with attention to what works for you. Do you know how you learn best? We all have a dominant mode of learning that is linked to our ‘body-type’. We will all have a particularly individual blend of the three modes below. Pick out the mode(s) below that reflect you most. You are likely to have two dominant modes of learning and you will probably be able to pick out one from those that suits you most of all:

Visual - you really need to see the practice or read the words to learn it. You want to see a demonstration from both the teacher and those around you on the mat. You can easily follow the route into a pose alongside others doing it, but get lost if you can’t see someone who is demonstrating the move. You notice if the classroom is clean, well put together and the colours around you. You may want to be challenged in your practice and find it harder to take to the softer parts of the class or restorative sequences. You can become over-heated easily and feel like asking the teacher to turn the heat down regularly, or even to open the doors and windows.
Auditory - you really need to hear the instructions to the practice and might even mutter them to yourself to help you move into or out of a pose. You love to hear the detailed instructions to a pose and you notice both the silences and the music within the classroom. You also notice if it is hard to hear the teacher or if there is excess noise in or outside the classroom. You may feel anxious in class or about going to class and you gravitate towards teachers that are soft and put you at ease. You can become over-worked more easily and like to have ‘stop gaps’ in between the more challenging sequences. You like to bring layers to keep warm (but you don’t always remember) and take your layers on and off often to suit the heating and cooling poses.
Sensory - you really need to feel your body move into the poses in class and then, for your home practice, you remember what it felt like to move in this way. You like to be adjusted. You like to have time to explore a pose for yourself under your own guidance and you are sensitive to becoming cold. You like to bring a blanket and socks and props and blocks to support your practice (and you always remember). Sometimes, you feel as if it would be perfect to just arrive, put some cosy socks on and a blanket over yourself and just lie there in total bliss….but the yoga teacher seems to have ideas of getting up and moving around. Boo!

If you are primarily a visual learner then get yourself onto a yoga website and learn along with one of your favourite teachers online. There are some absolutely fantastic sites now and the quality of instruction is absolutely brilliant. Here’s one of my favourites You aren’t getting adjusts or information that is specific to you, but if you are still able to go to your yoga class once a week, your teacher will be keeping you on track. You can also get more out of a good yoga book than those yogis that aren’t visual learners.

If you are primarily an auditory learner, there is a fantastic yoga website that is auditory only. It’s called AudibleYoga You don’t need to waste your time setting up your mat where you can see your computer or ipad because it isn’t as valuable a resource for you to see the teacher. You can also go onto the yoga website above, but you won’t need to watch the teacher as much. The only problem with this is that some yoga videos are assuming that you are watching. Auditory yoga websites will be making sure that you don’t miss one single instruction as every instruction will be verbalised.

If you are primarily a kineshetic or sensory learner, you are best supported by 121 sessions with a qualified teacher. It is very hard for you to get to the right place without a little hands on and having the luxury of exploring the pose for yourself in your own time. Although it seems like an expensive way to create a home practice, a little goes a long way. Depending on your needs, you can get a home practice created and taught to you with one or two 121’s and use this practice at home for about 2-4 months (1 or 2 seasons). Please note, this is different if you are booking 121’s to manage an injury, using it as a therapy to manage a health condition or booking sessions alongside a yoga teacher training course.

2. Getting the quantity vs quality ratio is hugely important in your home yoga practice. If you are aiming for a 1 1/2 hour yoga session every single day and you work a 60 hour week and have 3 kids… are creating stress not a yoga practice (probably, there are always exceptions!).

When we get the quantity/quality ration wrong we can end up feeling either like we are getting nothing out of our regular practice or that we never seem to get on our mat anymore. Both of these scenarios will eventually end up in the ‘roll up’. That poor mat will just get rolled up and stuffed somewhere that the sun doesn’t shine.

So, what are quantity and quality? Quantity is easy. How often do you want to practice? Here’s a little quantity yoga guide.

1 x week -- you don’t want to feel any worse than you already do!
2 x week -- you’re happy where you are and you want to maintain it
3 x week - you want to see improvement. You want to get that feeling that your yoga practice is helping you with the things that feel ‘difficult’ to you whether that is emotional, physical or mental strength
4 x week - You want to heal. You feel broken and you want to heal.
5 x week - You want to put a massive effort in and create a new life.
6 x week - You want to understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything and you are willing to put that time in on the mat damn it!
7 x week - You need a day off. Don’t take this option. If you went straight here, read the part about a dictatorship above again:)

Now, quality. Quality is about what you are getting out of your time on the mat. You can spend an hour and a half on your mat and feel like to just got wrung out to dry or you can feel like you’ve been on a yoga retreat morning. You can spend 5 minutes on your mat thinking of your shopping list or 5 minutes in meditation in deep communion with ‘your higher Source’. The time, in this perspective, is of no value. It is the quality that leads your practice where you would like it to go.

Add in quality to your practice via:

OM - Free your voice and Om from your core belly 1 - 3 x at the start of each practice
Nadi Shodhana/Alternate nostril breathing (there are some great instructional videos online) - 3 minutes
Moving energy via the 5 spinal movements - backbend, forward fold, twist, side bend and lengthen the spine - 1 minute to 1 hour
Savasana - rest the spine
Meditation on the breath - 3 minutes.

3. Get right into the benefits of the pose as they are TO YOU. Every pose, like every person, has a specific relationship to you. Just because the teacher has a ‘good relationship’ to the pose and you see it in every yoga class, doesn’t mean that it is a great pose for you.

Poses are music to the Yogi soul. Each power point in the body (7 chakra) and all the mini power points (acupressure or marma points) vibrate at a certain frequency. As we move into a pose such as Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), this chord of vibrations hits the nervous system and plays a tune on you at a deep cellular level. Your cells, in response, are either dancing away joyfully (creating health) or they have their hands over their ears saying ‘turn it down please!’ It is your job to notice the difference.

Start paying attention in class and seek out your ‘dance moves’. Which poses enlighten you? Which poses expand your conciousness? Which poses feel like medicine to your body and mind? Are they restful or dynamic poses? Are they backbends, forward folds, sidebends, spine lengtheners, twists or spinal rest movements? Are they requiring you to ‘up your breathing rate’ or calm down your breathing? Notice your power poses and add them into your home yoga practice. Learn what your power poses are good for (ask your teacher) and what they symbolise in ancient myth. Let this enquire your home yoga practice further.

When we remove the dictating tone from our home health care practices and replace it with a quality practice delivered in a way that is easy for us to learn, filled with poses that we have a great relationship with, it actually becomes hard to miss a practice!

Check out the 2018 schedule here where we will move through 18 seasonal power poses to experience which ones are great for your home practice!