Love: A Matter of the Heart

Love: A Matter of the Heart

LOVE (image via www.peaceloveandprettythings.com)“Time is precious. We’re given a certain number of heartbeats. You don’t know how many you’re gonna get – I don’t know how many I’m gonna get, so I think you’ve really gotta live every one of those to its fullest.” – Dr Kathy Magliato

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that today is Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s a day you look forward to or a day you loathe in proportion to the amount of Valentine’s you do or do not receive or your relationship status. But love, Real Love is so much bigger. It’s just that a day like today can make many feel as though it’s only romantic love that counts.

At the risk of sounding like a ‘rom-com’ cliché it’s true that love is all around us in many forms and sometimes in the most unexpected of places, if only we choose to be aware.

For a slightly different take on Valentine’s Day I wanted to share this 5 minute video with you where cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato explains how love affects us physically, how being a heart surgeon has impacted her own feelings about love and also why she believes the soul resides in the heart. This also ties in with the words of Dr. Mimi. Guarneri who is the author of my current Book of the Month, ‘The Heart Speaks’.

You can watch Dr. Kathy’s interview via Soul Pancake here: ‘How Love Affects Us Physically – A Heart Surgeon Weighs In’

Wherever you are this Valentine’s Day I wish you Love. And to quote one of my favourite teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater,

“Loneliness can only arise when we forget how much we are loved…. Love fuels gratitude and gratitude fuels compassion. Compassion changes the world.”

Light on Yoga

Light on Yoga

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar


Over the past several months on my website I have been featuring yoga related books that I’ve really enjoyed and want to share with you guys reading out there.

For anyone who has missed the titles featured so far, I am going to include my previous ‘Books of the Month’ here on the blog starting with Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar

“[Yoga]… means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga

A classic yoga text. This is the most comprehensive guide to Hatha yoga I have come across.

Ironically, it is only in the last year that I began attending Iyengar classes after a decade of asana practice, and even now it is admittedly not as often as I would like (something I wish to rectify in 2013). But I always leave feeling able to take its firm foundations into my practice elsewhere.

There is little I can say to do Light on Yoga full justice here. In this incredibly well-illustrated book, Mr. Iyengar explains not just each asana and its benefits (plus of course, correct alignment) he also guides the reader through pranayama techniques and more.

It comes as no surprise that many of the yoga teachers I know own this book. With various yoga routines to follow, hints and cautions for practice and a section on curative asanas for numerous conditions it’s an invaluable resource. It is also on the reading list for the Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training (which I am excited to be a part of this year – see here for more info).

This book also reminds us that there is no substitute for consistent practice and dedication. And for anybody who struggles with the notion of how it is possible for yoga to be more than ‘keep-fit’ exercise, I invite you to read the beginning of this book.

A must-have for serious practitioners and anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of yoga.

5 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

5 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

Marsh Farm House in Arundel, East Sussex

Marsh Farm House in Arundel, East Sussex

Originally published on Urban Lucy‘s Urban Blog.

Despite practising yoga for a decade I didn’t go on my first yoga retreat until 2011. One of my very first thoughts once I was there was “What took me so long?!” The retreat I’d chosen was a weekend break in the UK, yet it was just enough to bring my mind and body back into balance. And suited by budget too. I’d always thought that a retreat was a pipe dream but whether you want to head off to far-flung sunny climes or have a short but sweet weekend break closer to home there’s such a wide range of choice out there that it is possible to find a getaway to suit your tastes and needs.

I loved the experience so much that I now teach yoga on retreats and believe so much in the value of taking time out for you. Far from being selfish, taking that time to take care of you allows you to recharge and, in turn, enables you to give the best of yourself to your loved-ones. I recently returned from teaching on a weekend retreat in Sussex and was reminded all over again of why it’s so good. Here are just a few reasons for you:

1. No pressure to ‘do’ anything
Ever been on holiday and ended up with an itinerary so packed that you came back feeling like you needed another holiday? Well, one of the great things about being on retreat is that there’s no pressure ‘do’. We have enough pressures and ‘shoulds’ in our day-to-day lives and even on holiday that can creep in when what our minds and bodies really need is the opposite. On retreat you have the genuine opportunity to slow down with no guilt whatsoever. You can opt in or out of as many of the classes and other activities on offer as you like. Hang out with the group, or spend time alone. It’s your choice! It’s a real chance to Relax and restore.

2. You get to indulgently focus on your yoga practice (or even begin your yoga practice!)
If you already love yoga, then what better opportunity to practice every day! Though if you’ve never done yoga before, a retreat is a great place to start. There are lots of beginner-friendly retreats out there in the UK and abroad, including the ones I teach on for Sally Parkes Yoga (www.sallyparkesyoga.com). As a beginner you’ll be in a safe, nurturing environment and guided by teachers who want to support you.

3. It can be an opportunity to support a transition phase in your life
When I went on that first yoga retreat I was in the process of being made redundant from the job I worked at for almost ten years. Though it was a change I wanted, it was still a lot to come to terms with at the time. Being out of my regular surroundings was a great chance to step back, take stock and reassess things. It helped me get clearer about what I wanted. I’ve heard similar stories from other people about how they found a new perspective while on away on retreat and consequently, were able to take positive action once back at home.

4. It’s okay to go on your own (if you want to!)
Of course it’s okay to go on any holiday on your own, though holidaying alone isn’t something everyone feels comfortable with. From my experience, going away on retreat is a great way to go away on your own. The environment is safe and supportive and you get to meet some great people. People come from diverse backgrounds, yet often similar experiences have brought them to a retreat. It’s not uncommon to form lasting friendships.

5. The effects can last when you get back home
I feel this is best summed-up by a recent retreat guest who at the end of our weekend retreat totally humbled us with the following:

“I came on one of these retreats a while ago and came away with a warm feeling that lasted a long time. This time I’ve got that feeling again.”

So what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your next, or even your first yoga retreat? Do something nice for you.

This Spring you can join me for two weekend retreats in East Sussex in March and April and a week on the Adriatic Coast in May:

With Sally Parkes Yoga:
‘Revitalise Detox Retreat (as featured in OM Yoga Magazine) runs from 22-25th March at the gorgeous Brooklands Barn, where there is also a heated swimming pool for guests to use.

‘Yoga, Pilates & Detox’ (as recommended by The Metro) is from 19-21st April at Marsh Farm House.

For full details and to book please visit www.sallyparkesyoga.com.

With Alan Sweetingham:
From 12-19th May I am thrilled to be joining Alan Sweetingham as a guest teacher on his Montengro Yoga Holiday . As I type there are just 4 places left. For further info and details of how to book please visit my website – www.ucanyoga.co.uk