This Summer I was fortunate enough to take time out from teaching at YogaVenue to immerse myself in study with some amazing teachers at the Laughing Lotus Yoga School in New York City. A chance to refresh, re-energise and reconnect right at the source of some amazing Yoga.
People have asked me why as a teacher I need to study more about Yoga. Is there really more to learn? The simple answer is yes! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been teaching for 1 year or 10, or practicing for 1 week or 10 years, you never stop being the student.
Study is an important part of Yoga. As yogis, we learn about Svadhyaya which means self-study. This is one of the Niyamas (Yogic codes of conduct) and one of the eight limbs of Yoga. Pantanjali talks about the importance of Svadhyaya in the Yoga Sutras; how we study to learn about ourselves and, as we progress, we take a step closer to the Divine.
Going away on a course is a great way to learn, and for me it was a perfect opportunity to immerse myself in a different style of Yoga. However, it is not the only way. We have the chance to be a student every day, every time we step onto our Yoga mat and move, every time we chant, every time we meditate. All these opportunities can exist to help us understand more about ourselves and maybe provide more clarity on what our goal is in life. How fortunate are we to have this opportunity!
So next time after your Yoga practice, take a moment and observe what you have learnt from your practice that day. Every day will be different and some days things may make more sense than others. Be thankful for the experience and don’t leave it too long until the next chance.
Join Caroline for Vinyasa Yoga every Thursday 5.45pm.
Two of our Yogis, Kristian and Amy have been attending Hot Yoga together at the YogaVenue for the last six months. Kristian recently penned this poem for Amy about his experiences of class and has kindly given permission for us to share it below.
“Sonnet for Hot Yoga”
We come to standing as the class begins
Our bodies fully fuelled to hold the heat
We’ll sweat until our fingers could grow fins
Then swim away with blissful hearts abeat.
Inhale, exhale; we are first taught to breathe
Lift up, bend back, and last chance: lock the legs
Step right, sit down, by now the skin doth seethe
Kick back, kick up, until the body begs.
A web to web tight grip, no shaky hands
One single locust still defines a swarm
Our trees grow toes before the cobra stands
The spine begins to mime the camel’s form.
With freedom granted from this curs’d sauna
It’s time to join the dead: Savasana.
Some people have asked us whether it is sensible to be practicing in a Hot Yoga class while the temperature outside is also hot (or in our case warm). There are two questions to consider; is it good to practice Hot Yoga in the Summer and, is it safe to practice Hot Yoga in the Summer. The short answer to both is Yes.
If you saw last month’s newsletter you may remember we talked about how the Summer is the perfect time to deepen your practice as our bodies are generally warmer and less tight from the cold. Check out last month’s newsletter for more on this.
It is perfectly safe to practice Hot Yoga in the Summer. The temperature inside the studio is always the same. We have a super advanced heating system where once it reaches the desired temperature it stays there and stops pumping hot air into the room. In fact it is much cleverer than that. It actually changes the air in the whole room 12 times an hour – yes all the air in the room is changed about every 5 minutes; as it leaves the room the hot air is recycled and new fresh air is brought in, then this air is heated to 40°C and then sent into the room. So as well as keeping it at a constant temperature, you are also getting fresh oxygen/air in the room for the whole class. This type of heating is still relatively uncommon in Hot studio’s so please come and enjoy it.
When you leave the studio after class you may find you are slower to cool down because the air temperature outside is also warm. This is perfectly normal and safe;just allow yourself some extra time in the room or heading home to cool off slowly, always rehydrating very well over the next couple of hours.
This year Winter seems to have prolonged itself and I am only just beginning to feel warm all the way to my bones. Summers energy heats me up and my body begins to respond by wanting to do more exercise and spend more time outdoors.
Doing exercise is important as the temperature rises – it literally ‘blows off steam,’ especially important if you notice yourself tired or irritable from long hot days, or shut inside at home or the office. But we must also be aware of overheating. Good hydration throughout the day, and avoiding sunburn and heat rash is vital.
The body becomes more open and flexible and offers us the chance to deepen into our Yoga practice. We are already warm so we are able to work strongly from the outset and go to new depths as the month’s progress.
Throughout the Winter we have maintained our Yoga practice but in Summer it is time to really develop and deepen it and see change.
Enjoy the warmth and don’t let it put you off your practise but embrace it. However, if you can’t get to practice on a hot day perhaps some stretching in the garden may do the trick, or a long Savasana relaxing deeply either inside or out, when you get home would really calm everything down preparing you for the rest of your day or evening.
Recently, we’ve been approached by some of you asking; “Why am i so distracted in class?” There are so many reasons:
Some distractions are external to us – the news, social media, issues at work and home, and a big one – mobile phones. We experience other distractions as internal – my body aches, the heat is uncomfortable, this sweat is making my eyes itch, I can’t breathe…why am I here again??
And perhaps the last is where we end up in our discussion: Why are you here? Why do you do Yoga?
Here are some thoughts:
We come to the studio because we are missing something, or unhappy with something or want to add something, in our life. We come because somewhere inside us our intuition is saying there is more to living and I need to explore this. It may be that I need to look after my body, regain my posture, stretch my tight muscles, release my stressed shoulders, breathe better and deeper, loose weight, rehabilitate my broken leg or knee.
Or it may be that I need to get out of my life for an hour and half, spoil myself by giving myself an hour and a half in the day to look after me, to find silence in the room, to allow me to sit and let my emotions wash over me as scary as this may feel and let them go, to focus on my breath and increase my lung capacity, to heal my mind from terrifying dis-ease, to observe the crazy things I am doing every day which are not really that important, to stop rushing, to have an excuse to turn off my mobile phone so I am not distracted every minute of the day/week/month/year.
Often it is the physical issues that bring people to Yoga, but slowly a feeling of having/wanting to go to the studio may creep up. Your Yoga develops as the physical issues are resolved or satiated and it then incorporates other needs like finding silence, taking time to practice concentration and focus, insisting on this time being solely for me, acknowledging emotions, becoming comfortable with alone time and not looking for ‘stuff’ to fill my head with, cutting off from the bombardment of trivia, media and distraction that make up all our days.
And hopefully over time Yoga becomes a daily tool that helps you live a deeper, connected and more aware life.
Coming to the studio requires an effort. When you are here we, at YogaVenue, try our upmost to give you the experience you are looking for. We are not a gym or social club but a Yoga studio firmly rooted in the present day world and looking to integrate this with Yoga values and teachings. When you come to the studio please respect the studio, and most importantly the needs of your fellow Yogi’s. We never know what the person next to us needs each time they come to class. We all – other students and teachers – offer them our very best intentions so we respect the communal rules of the studio. We are all looking for a way to find more quiet time, focus on our needs and take time off from all the distractions we think are so important. For an hour and half let them go.
We are using pictures this week instead of word – they say each picture speaks a thousand words and in this case it speaks of dedicated practice and determination.
Ian is pictured here moving towards full Locust whereby you arms and chest form the foundations of the posture and your legs are up in the air or curling over towards the floor.
We have included some notes on how to move towards it, but remember day-by-day, step-by-step is the way ahead.
For some years now I have grown very suspicious of New Year Resolutions! So often it seems that we set really ambitious resolutions for ourselves eg; change exercise regime, change diet, get to Grade 5 piano by the end of the year etc. It basically means we set ourselves up for failure and so nothing will ever change and we get really despondent.
Staying realistic has to be the way to go. For the last few years I have been setting intentions; sometimes I make these public to friends and family, and sometimes I keep them to myself. Intentions take the form of ‘including a new exercise session in my week, including more greens in my diet at least one meal a day, booking at least 1 piano class per month etc. I have to plan them though, bit by bit, incorporating them into my schedule.
I have found intentions, rather than resolutions, makes me remember that we were hoping to enjoy the activities we want start, and surely starting anything new is about adding a sense of joy into our lives?
And so to Yoga; don’t force yourself to do a certain number of classes per week. Come with an open mind and really enjoy the class you have done. Note how you feel and you will see that naturally your body and mind will tell you what it needs. Often it wants more Yoga.
It has been interesting to hear how positively the Yogi’s doing our Yogalates classes have found it, and how it effects their regular Yoga classes.
Yogalates works on the basis of enabling you to find your core muscles and to strengthen them but not to exhaustion. It allows you to feel how your shoulders and your hips are an integral part of your body when moving and are brought together through the core. In this way you can use the whole body to undertake work rather than over working and straining one part. It is great for both guys and ladies! In the words of one Yogi:
“I’ve found that the Yogalates class provides a welcome opportunity to slow down and bring attention to parts of your practice that may be neglected. Because the pace of the class is slower, it allows time to feel out subtle adjustments in your posture and to focus on correct alignment and core engagement; thus strengthening the shoulder, core, hip relationship.
I think the class serves as a great supplement to the other Vinyasa and Hot Yoga classes at YogaVenue”.NL
If you’d like to know more about our Yogalates or other classes held at YogaVenue, please click here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.