Pranayama Workshop – “The Science of Breath”

This workshop will begin with a restorative yoga sequence to quieten the mind and nerves, followed by guided pranayama (breath control). The fireplace will be lit and the room nice and warm to accommodate relaxation. Please note that 1 year of regular yoga practice is required.

Pranayama is the 4th limb of yoga, and is as essential as a regular asana (pose) practice. Pranayama means breath extension or regulation.  We access the mind through the body and the breath. Emotional excitement affects the rate of breathing; equally, deliberate regulation of breathing checks emotional excitement. Through breath regulation we can begin to calm the nerves, soothe the body and ultimately control the mind.

COST: R180 for 1 workshop, R480 for 3

September Newsletter is Out!

I’ve recently started a monthly newsletter to fuel your motivation and passion for yoga. Each newsletter includes interesting yoga tips and inspiration, home sequences, pose adaption with props, and more! Every month you’ll also find an exclusive offer on a health and wellness product, to say thank you for you support, as well as to support and grow local businesses that are doing good, ethical work. This month there is a 15% offer from KURO-Bo natural water filters!

(Subscribe here) to join the community!

Become Yoga

The below quote explains the benefits of holding poses for long periods of time. Flowing between poses has its own benefits, but I’m enjoying slowing things down to a snails pace in this busy world. Slower does not mean easier (!) Iyengar yoga is ideal for a slow but strong practice. I think allowing our minds to become absorbed in the activity at hand is something that is becoming lost in our distracting Information Age. Spending longer durations in poses helps one practice being absorbed in the activity, giving one a single pointed focus. This, I think, will become increasingly important for our mental health.

“[In asanas], both left-brain and right-brain consciousness come into play. The analytical left brain probes the details of the poses and explores the various kinesiological possibilities; the right brain experiences and creates patterned wholes, capturing the flowing essence of each asana. When these two aspects of consciousness are working together harmoniously, the mind can constantly refine and adjust the pose while maintaining a continuous flow of intelligence. This integration – requiring great concentration and stillness of mind – is one of the challenges of asana practice and provides a fertile field for Self-unfolding.”         ~Arthur Kilmurray, Yoga Journal Sept/Oct 1984

📷 Steve Benjamin @animal_ocean

Yoga Philosophy Part 2

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself… ”  ~Robert M. Pirsig

This climbing quote is such a great analogy for the yogic journey! Staying in tune with yourself, staying in the moment, achieving what BKS Iyengar called “effortless effort”, removing desire and goals in favor of the journey and work for works sake 🙏🏻

Back to the book I’m reading, “Roots of Yoga” by James Mallinson and Mark Singleton. Here are some poignant extracts from the book, taken from various pages and sections:

“Yoga is not attained by he who eats too much or nothing at all, nor by he who sleeps too much, nor stays awake… For he who is disciplined in food and enjoyments, disciplined in carrying out activities, and disciplined in sleeping and waking, [suffering will be destroyed]. When his thoughts are restrained and he abides only in the self, without desire for any pleasures, he is said to be ‘yoked’ [unified to spirit].

… Qualities needed for success in yoga:

Enthusiasm, boldness, patience, knowledge of the levels of reality, resoluteness and renunciation of contact with people.

… Obstacles and Hindrances [afflictions] to Yoga Practice

The afflictions  [klesas] are ignorance, egoism, passion, aversion and clinging to life.

… the ‘afflictions’ are five misapprehensions. By their activity they strengthen the authority of the gunas [the 3 qualities: darkness, action and ‘beingness’], render [unwanted] transformation fixed, swell the river of effect and cause and, with the actions and afflictions having become dependent on each other’s assistance, bring forth the fruition of actions…

… Of these [afflictions] ignorance is the field, i.e. soil of propagation, of egoism and the rest, whose variations are of four kinds, dormant, diminished, extinct or active.

… [dormancy] is the condition of being a seed found in those [things] in the mind which have only potentiality as their basis. Its awakening [occurs] when it is faced with a support [for the mind or sense organs].

… For a person in meditation in whom the seeds of affliction have been burnt up, that [awakening] does not happen again, even when faed with a support [for the mind and sense organs]…”

That’s all for now, hope you can follow along!

Monique Woolls-King

Photo by Steve Benjamin @animalocean

Yoga Philosophy Part 1

It’s difficult to learn yoga philosophy. Many of the yoga philosophy books are difficult to read, and it can be a lot to digest. It can feel as though you’re swimming in the midst of information, and can’t make the links. I will try post the highlights from my learning as I go, as a way for me to further understand, and to share this info with you in a concise way.

Below is some paraphrasing/quotes from a book I’m reading: Roots Of Yoga by James Mallinson and Mark Singleton.

“Union may be variously conceived as being with the manifestation of one’s own nature; with an element; with Siva’s (the state of enlightenment) power; or as the conjunction of the individual and the supreme self. Yoga is the union of all dualities.”

There are many definitions of yoga. In the Bhagavadgita, yoga is described as equanimity, skill in action and separation: “… Abandon attachment, and be equanimous in success and failure. Yoga is said to be equanimity.”

“Yoga is skill in action”

“Know that which is called yoga to be separation from contact with sufffering. It should definitely be practiced by one whose mind is not dejected.”

“Yoga is a sharpened axe for the canopy of creeperrs that are all calamaties, a magical means other than herbs, mantras and trantras fot attaining the spendour of nirvana. Even the worst deeds are wiped out as a result of yoga, like the thickest and blackest of thick black clouds by the fearsome gale. Yoga destroys sins, even those amassed over a long time…”

“Liberation is the most important of the four aims of man, and yoga is its cause. Yoga is the three jewels that take the form of right knowledge, conviction and conduct.”

“Yoga is union of the vital principle and the self. It is the knowledge of Siva [the state of yoga] and the self as not being different. It is the knowledge of one’s self.”

“Yoga is situated in the self.”

“Yoga is the union of all dualities. There is no merit greater than yoga, no happiness greater than yoga, and nothing more subtle than yoga, for there is no higher path than yoga.”

“[Yoga is] the union of the sun and moon, the individual soul and the supreme soul. And in the same way the union of all dualities, is called yoga.”

“Living apart, eating little, disciplined in speech, body and mind, always intent on the yoga of meditation, taking refuge in dispassion, giving up egoism, force, arrogance, lust, anger and grasping, unselfish and peaceful: such a one is for for becoming Brahman.”

That’s all for now. I will keep sharing as I go!

Start your home practice –

Consistency is key!

Yoga classes and regular self-practice should go hand in hand. The ultimate goal is to be doing both weekly. Coming to class helps you learn new things, be aligned by the teacher, provides community, and gives inspiration. A home practice helps you cement what was learnt in class, improve at a quicker rate, and develop space for new learning to happen in your next class because you’ve digested the previous one through extra home practice. A home practice is also silent. No teacher to rely on. This is invaluable for your yoga journey, so that your practice becomes independent.

Starting a home practice can be challenging. Often one doesn’t know where to start, what poses to practice, or in what sequence to practice them in. The 3 main challenges facing home practice is: time management, distractions, and lack of knowledge of what to do. Here are some essential tips for starting or maintaining a regular home practice.

Ask: why practice yoga?
Why do you do yoga? What benefits do you feel after class? Is it strength, clarity, flexibility, stress reduction? Remind yourself of these reasons; write them down or refer this this mail when you’re uninspired.

Start small
Regularity trumps duration! A daily 10min practice seems manageable, right? 10 minutes is a great start to building confidence and routine in one’s practice. The truth is, consistency and the quality of the practice is more important than the time on the mat.

Limit distractions
Turn off your phone for those 10mins!!!!!! Laptop off, doors closed, dogs in the other room, kids at school. You’re giving yourself these 10mins, you may as well make them a quiet and calm 10mins.

Start simple
Keep your practice simple. Pick an aspect to focus on – maybe you want to work on standing poses. Pick 5 poses and practice those. Practice the same 5 poses the whole week to limit confusion and to save time on planning your practice.

Come to class!
Come to class with the intent of re-practicing what was taught that day. After finishing class, write down all you can remember from the class: poses, the sequence they were in, any specific instructions the teacher gave you, any props you were given for certain poses. Use this as your sequence for next home practice, or even for the next weeks home practice!

Get me to help you!
Bring your 10min sequence to your next class and I’ll be happy to give you a few pointers in the right direction, or help you plan your next week’s practice.

Savasana, savasana, savasana!
I’ve saved the most important point for last. DO NOT leave out savasana (the final resting pose). If you only have time for ONE pose, then practice savasana. If you are a beginner and have no clue where to start, then just practice savasana. Give yourself at least 2 mins out of a 10min practice to lie in savasana.

I hope that give you some inspiration to practice today. If you would like to receive more yoga tips and inspiration, as well as 15% off Back2Nature products, sign up to my newsletter.

Namaste,

Monique

 

Botswana 2018

I’ve recently come back from holiday in Botswana, and I loved it so much I have already booked a trip for next year. If anyone ever plans to go to ever visit Botswana please let me know and I’ll give you some extra tips I wish I’d been given.

Going on any holiday can present challenges to one’s yoga practice. Priorities shift, and we find ourselves in a new routine and surroundings. A camping holiday presents unique challenges; you are often exposed to the elements, bugs and without spacious shelter.

This kind of holiday needs some extra consideration and dedication! I’ve put together some key points to help you stay focused and motivated in such times.

  • Do your practice first thing! Create a routine, and make this routine part of the your camping group dynamic. As soon as you’ve had breakfast it’s too late. The days activities will run away with you and the opportunity to practice slips away. The sun will have been up long enough to make the shade too scarce and it will soon become too hot to practice. Rise and practice!
  • Explain to your camping companions that you will be prioritising your yoga practice first thing each morning. This creates some sort of social pledge, and when they notice you slacking they may even call you out on why you aren’t practicing!
  • Find some flat, hard ground to practice on. Do not try to practice on soft sand. It will give you an unstable practice that can cause injury. Uneven ground can also make you go home feeling very skew.

  • Bring a dedicated ground sheet. You need to feel as though you can spread out and relax, and not restricted by the confines of your tiny mat. It will also reduce bug traffic across your mat 🙂
  • Find thick shade. There’s nothing worse that getting into a pose and you are squinting your eyes to the sun. You will be left feeling frustrated rather than refreshed!

I hope I’ve helped inspire some regular practice for your next camping holiday! Till then, see you in studio!

Keep practicing,

Monique 

Props and prep

A typical Iyengar class in Kalk Bay, as students prepare for Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Pose). Props can help prepare the body by giving it the correct alignment. The use of blocks and a belt in Pincha Mayurasana helps to keep the elbows shoulder width apart and the hands apart. This encourages the armpits and chest to open, as well as ensuring that you access the pose using the correct muscle groups. In this way the props become the teachers, and slowly the correct action is learnt by the body. In this variation, students are about to walk their legs up the wall.

The yoga cure

Science steadily catches up to “prove” that the magic of yoga in fact works. Yoga helps manage and treat many diseases and ailments resulting for inflammation, including depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and digestive disorders. This must be why so much importance is placed on Sarvangasana / Shoulder Stand in Iyengar yoga  

This link below explains:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201607/vagus-nerve-stimulation-dramatically-reduces-inflammation

 

It’s all in the balance

Yoga is like life – its a balance of holding on and letting go. We cannot control the flow of life entirely, so we must learn to do what we can and let go of the rest. This is what the asanas (postures) teach us. Through holding postures, we learn to be in the present moment, do our best, and surrender to the rest. Yoga literally rewires the brain to cope in this way as we hold difficult poses. So when we are faced with hardships in real life, those neurological pathways fire out of habit and we learn healthier stress responses. Not only does this increase our coping mechanisms, but also leads to a more fulfilled and happier existence