Changing Seasons, Changing Pace

Changing Seasons, Changing Pace

Raw Chocolate Balls on a Berry Salad - one of delicious desserts we made (and ate!) on retreat :D

Raw Chocolate Balls on a Berry Salad - one of delicious desserts we made (and ate!) on retreat 😀

Between teacher training, the exciting news of officially becoming certified by Judith Hanson Lasater as a Relax and Renew Trainer, teaching, writing and the usual day-to-day I barely noticed the days getting shorter this month. But I certainly noticed it getting colder! With the clocks going back in the UK this weekend we’re officially in that yin time of year.

With the autumnal weather last weekend I was in the perfect location – a cosy farm house in East Sussex with a wonderful group of people :D. I was teaching yoga on a Yoga, Pilates and Vegetarian Cookery retreat at Marsh Farm House. I went on this retreat earlier this year as a guest and loved the experience so much that I returned to teach on the weekend!

Over the three days of yoga and learning to cook (and eat!) some delicious, healthy vegetarian and vegan food I was reminded yet again of the importance of taking time out for ourselves. It felt like such a privilege to be there in the capacity of yoga teacher and helping to facilitate the weekend.

I’m already looking forward to teaching on the Relax and Restore New Year Retreat with Sally Parkes in January! If you’d like to welcome in 2013 by restoring balance to your body and mind, then come and join us! It’s going to be a wonderful mix of Dynamic, Hatha, Restorative Yoga and Pilates at Florence House. Plus there’ll be holistic treatments on offer from expert therapist Jo Poxon. Take some well-deserved time out for you 😀


This award-winning movie has been out for a year, though there are still a lot of us out there who haven’t seen it! I’ve been lucky enough to see it twice in the past month. First, during a residential teacher training week and again last night at a special screening at The Prince Charles Cinema in London.

Present at the screening for a Q&A were two fantastic, inspiring teachers who appear in the film: Gabriela Bozic, who I was fortunate to meet and study with at the London Jivamukti Yoga immersion last Autumn, and Caroline Shola Arewa. Shola is one of the tutors on Laxmi Yoga, so I’m excited to meet her at Part 2 of training this weekend 😀

I actually enjoyed this documentary even more the second time around. It gave me a great deal to think about as far as why I practice, how and why I have come to follow the path of becoming a teacher and what I can contribute.

Seeing the movie also made me reflect on my own journey over the past year. When I first saw this film being promoted on the web before its US release I was just at the beginning of my teacher training journey after some 10 years since my very first yoga class. Watching the movie I noted that I have been amazingly fortunate to practice and study with some amazing teachers (both male and female) over the past decade and that several of them appear in the film as interviewees including Judith Hanson Lasater, Shiva Rea, Sarah Powers, Cyndi Lee, Gabriela and now, Caroline Shola Arewa.

Naturally, with women being the focus of the movie a significant idea that is explored is what women bring to the yoga practice as practitioners and teachers. But you don’t have to be a woman to enjoy it! 😀 I came away feeling inspired, uplifted and affirmed. And once again, was the re-iteration of the message that the Yoga is not the Asana. What you do within the confines of your yoga mat is just a tiny part of it. More important than whether we can do handstand in the middle of the room is how and who we choose to be in the world.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, check it out! Details of worldwide screenings are listed on the website and you can keep up to date with them on Facebook and twitter too. Tell your friends! Let’s Spread the Yoga Love 😀

You can watch the trailer here: Yogawoman trailer.

Continuing Education with Laxmi

Continuing Education with Laxmi

“Through our yoga practice we aim to bring balance into the body so we can bring balance to the mind.”
– Sally Parkes, Laxmi Yoga

I love that there is always more to learn.

I’ve just got back from a week in Wales with a brilliant bunch of yogis: Part One of Laxmi Yoga Teacher Training founded and led by Sally Parkes.

It is a year since I began my yoga teacher training journey and in that time the learning hasn’t stopped. From learning to teach restorative yoga with Judith Hanson Lasater to studying the teaching of vinyasa flow with Shiva Rea and attending numerous workshops. I’ve continued to learn from my spondylolisthesis in my own asana practice. And mostly, I’ve learned from everyone I’ve been fortunate enough to guide through their yoga practice since I started teaching.

In the Hindu sacred texts, the Vedas, the Goddess Laxmi is the one who has the object and aim of uplifting mankind.

The above, comes from the opening page of Laxmi Yoga’s training manual. This particular training has come at just the right time for me. There have been many lessons over the past year and I knew I wanted to deepen my knowledge in certain areas as well as engage in some more self-inquiry.

I have attended Sally’s classes and retreats as a student and since starting to teach I’ve had the pleasure of joining her retreat team. With a background in studying sports and exercise science, and some fourteen years experience teaching not only yoga but also Pilates and personal training to people of all ages and abilities, Sally has a wealth of knowledge. As a student I appreciate her non-dogmatic style, her passion that yoga really can be accessible for everyone and that she incorporates all aspects of her experience into her approach to teaching. So, I’m very happy for the opportunity to study with her!

Our first week in Wales was spent studying and practising at the welcoming Dru Yoga Mountain Lodge in Snowdonia, which is also home to the World Peace Flame.

Our group consists of a mix of practitioners who have some teaching experience either in yoga or other disciplines along with some completely new to teaching. What we have in common is that we are all dedicated yogis and it was wonderful to share our range of experiences over the course of our first week together.

Partner work in Warrior 2

Partner work in Warrior 2

Outside of our regular sessions and posture clinics each day with Sally, we practiced meditation with Nanna Coppens from Dru Yoga who has been teaching for over twenty years.

I got to teach a restorative yoga class for the group, which was a real joy! For some, it was their first experience of a restorative yoga practice. Another group member who we affectionately named ‘Guru Chris’ guided us through an energising Kundalini yoga session. While Neil Phillips gave us a great insight into the principles of Ayurveda.

We are studying Anatomy and Physiology with Dawn Morse. As well as being the programme leader of the Sports Therapy Foundation Degree provided by the University of Bath and lecturing in Sports Therapy and Sports and Exercise Science, Dawn has also taught yoga (including mother and baby and children’s yoga), Pilates, personal training, sports and remedial massage and injury rehabilitation… So, it’s fair to say that Dawn knows her stuff!

With our friend Fred the Skeleton

With our friend Fred the Skeleton

Though I have a deep interest in studying anatomy this is not a subject that comes easily to me. But Dawn’s approach is brilliant. We came away covering so much more than we’d imagined possible. Certain aspects were familiar to me from study I have done so far, but I’m particularly enjoying learning more about biomechanics. And I wasn’t alone here as we even spent a whole evening of study time outside our anatomy sessions watching and discussing Paul Grilley’s anatomy DVD. I’m looking forward to studying with Dawn again when we return to Wales in November.

Friday night was Kirtan Night! It was great fun and I’ve been known to enjoy a chant :D. Along the way Nanna, who led the session told the stories of Ganesha, the Gayatri Mantra and talked about the World Peace Flame Foundation. Very apt indeed as our Kirtan was taking place on the International Day of Peace. An uplifting evening all round.

On Saturday night we after dinner we watched Yogawoman together. I’m so glad that I finally got to see it! An added treat was that one of the contributors to the movie is Laxmi Yoga course tutor, Caroline Shola Arewa who we’ll meet in October.

The week whizzed by. Yet in that short space of time so much happened. For one thing, we realised we had all taken in more that we had thought. That’s thanks in no small part to Sally consciously cultivating a great learning environment. We arrived mostly as strangers but bonded as a group very quickly.

Laxmi Yogis with Sally Parkes (far right) and Dawn Morse (far left)

Laxmi Yogis with Sally Parkes (far right) and Dawn Morse (far left)

I’m already looking forward to Part Two in October where we’ll be delving deeper into the subtle body and the Chakras with Caroline Shola Arewa. And we’ll be doing First Aid for Yoga Teachers training with Julie Cleasby – a refresher for some and all new to others among our group. To follow that in Parts Three and Four, among other things, we will be learning more about teaching special populations and the business of yoga, the latter being especially crucial for anyone seriously planning to earn a living as a yoga teacher. At each stage of the course, I’ll be blogging about the experience. In the meantime, there’s studying and assignments to be done before we meet again in October, so I’d best get on with my homework! 😀