Yoga is taught daily on retreat as this ancient health practice brings calm, balance and connection to our body and mind. Suitable to all body shapes, types and levels of experience, Shoshana our retreat founder and experienced yoga teacher brings insight, humour, and heart connection into all classes.
In yoga we are invited to rest and strengthen our body as well as open and soften our heart. While some postures instantly feel good, yoga challanges us to open and stretch into new territories, and to practice feeling more comfortable with discomfort. This inspires a deeper sense of safety and qualities such as trust, love and compassion are developed side by side along strength and flexibility, openness and relaxation.
Safe practice of yoga asana stimulates physical, energetic and emotional cleansing in the body and breath practices of pranayama can directly stimulate nervous system relaxation, gut and lung detox and weight loss (we breath out CO2 in almost equal amounts to the weight we lose!).
With expert guidance, based on knowledge as well as experience, one can reap the many healthy benefits of yoga practice, while steering clear of energy disturbances and physical injuries.
Shoshana lived in India as a yogini for 4 years has direct experience the profound effects of this ancient practice.
Yoga Traditions & Lineages
Actually the 'family name' of this type of physical yoga practices. Is often used when the lineage doesn't have a name. Is also known as 'Classical Indian Yoga'.
Pros: Can come across some interesting teachers with gems to pass on.
Cons: Can be sloppy, without awareness of preserving and moving within the physical body's healthy range of movements.
Iyengar Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, Pune, India
The fab precise ABC of Yoga, teaching skeletal and muscular alignment in movement and postures.
Pros: Can have significant therapeutic effects. Fantastically educational, will prevent injuries!
Cons: This detailed style can come across as 'rough and stern', maybe a throw back to the Guru's personality (Still alive, living in Pune, India). Actually, it depends on the teacher. I recommend teachers who with a sturdy Iyengar background have developed personal insight and teaching methods.
'Power Yoga', Ashtanga Yoga: Patabhi Joise, Mysore, India
Since 2000 this has also been referred to as 'Power Yoga'. A highly energetic form of flow (vinyasa) yoga in it's 'pure' form. Not a beginners practice, which is why it is often taught in UK in various adapted forms. The vinyasa creates heat- tapas - which allows the body to enter new area
s of opening and flexibility. This tapas burns off fat and get endorphins moving, making an exciting, and slightly addictive practice!
Pros: A powerful effective practice.1st series works on the body systematically from feet upwards (there are 5 series, most people only do the first).
Cons: Tends to subtly encourage competitiveness. At the end of a years practice need to check, are you emotionally/mentally more balanced? I strongly believe one must have a personal understanding of ABC's of correct body movement based on Iyengar Yoga teachings before Ashtanga practice, due to the high risk injury factor involved.
A simple series of classic Yoga postures done in an over-heated 'sauna' like room. The heat raises the temp. of the body which allows the body to move and stretch more than when body is cold. This brings with it a injury risk factor as you might be stretching beyond your limits without noticing it.
Pros: You get a good work out and stretch far.
Cons: little opportunity for serenity and understanding with/of the postures.
Possibly the most popular form practiced in the west today. Actually they teach all forms of yoga like Devotional (Bhakti), Action (Karma), Knowledge (Jnana), and Hatha (Postures and Meditation). The Ashrams are westernized and popular and have great food!
Pros: Great for devotional practices such as chanting and praying. A holistic Ashram experience too.
Cons: Simplistic teaching methods regarding all physical and cleansing energy teachings. Can be harmful to do the physical postures incorrectly (lower back injuries are frequent). Also other practices can be very harmful energetically if not practiced with care.
Taught in Madras by B.S. Desicachar, the son of the great deceased Yoga guru Krishnamacharya of Mysore. Personalizes postures, adapted to individual needs. Also works with breath and chanting.
Pros: Holistic, personalized, interesting practice.
Cons: Available only in Madras, The hectic capitol of Tamil Nadu, southern India.
A highly potent practice aimed at raising the 'kundalini' energy up the main 'Susumna' channel. The practices include energetic breathing exercises, movements, meditations and more. When Kundalini is raised one's consciousness and perception are often permanently altered. This is a very advanced practice which should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately today anyone can get their hands on any manual, this does not mean one is prepared for the effects of the practice.
Pros: The raising of the Kundalini energy is powerful and transformative. Part of the process of change and evolution that one can grow through, includes elevating all lower chakra energies and opening to unity and oneness.
Cons: If raised prematurely Kundalini release can have long-term irreversible effects of energy disturbances such as incoherence, inability to contain and integrate the Kundalini energy into the everyday experience.
An Iyengar based subtle way of doing yoga that can be very simple, but at the same time is very advanced. Works with gravity awareness, the breath, the energy body in movement and the wavelike movement of the spine in particular.
Pros: A safe, wonderful source of inspired teachings to take one into the world of personal experience in Asana.
How to Practice Yoga, some Do's and Don'ts to avoid discomfort, injury and other pitfalls?
Healthy eating is as important as any other aspect, try food combining and a high percentage of live raw foods (salads especially) with each meal. Do yourself a favor and wait at least 3 hours after a substantial meal before you practice yoga.
Try doing yoga in the morning as well as in the evening (not necessarily on the same day!). This way you get to work on your 'morning body' which might be a bit stiffer, but is a lot quieter, than your 'evening body'.
Make sure you are fully comfortable- notice what you are wearing and where you are practicing. Prepare a nice environment and comfortable clothes that allow your mind to rest during your practice.
Shower before your practice - especially helpful in preparation for morning practices, or if you tend to get drowsy.
Use yoga classes to gather information which you then apply by cultivating your 'inner teacher', giving yourself detailed instruction on each asana while you are in it.
Work within your comfort zone. 70% is enough. Stay in comfort zone where you can work and move with an open heart, accepting the uncomfortable sensations as part of the self-growth factor.
Develops healthily on a basis of mutual respect, with the student arriving with healthy intention and motivation and the teacher respecting and encouraging the student's intuition and experience.
Good pain vs. Bad pain:
Only you know how the posture feels for you. Discover what good and bad pain feels like and steer clear of bad pains, which are sharp & acute, lasting after the posture is over or even after class. Knees and lower back are especially sensitive areas, damage is often irreversable, so best prevent it!.When experiencing 'bad' pain, remember to stay calm, breath and gently lengthen your limbs as you come out of the posture. Remember that getting out of a posture safely is done as carefully as you entered it.
Be patient with yourself when you are not moving into a posture readily. Develop inner calm and trust as you continue to breath, elongate and talk yourself through the movement of the posture, visualizing it as you speak yourself through it! Where the mind goes the body follows, you are putting in motion a powerful chain of events, where your mind is instructing the bones, muscles and subtle systems to move and they quite quickly get the message and move exactly as you instruct, it just takes time for you to see this as the joints are often calcified and stiff and the muscles tight or short...with regular practice you will see results!
Healthy heart, healthy mind:
Never underestimate the power of yoga to develop the very qualities you bring to it! When we bring a strong desire for health and peacefulness that is what we receive. Flip side is that when we bring competitiveness and desire for outer beauty or acrobatic performance, that is what we receive.
Inspire your practice and let it evolve you to a new previously unknown state of health!
Yoga effects us on a physical and mental level and can profoundly transform us.
Till the principles of yoga are experienced and sufficiently understood, a qualified instructor is absolutely necessary. As we start to develop our awareness of body and mind through Yoga postures, breath and meditation, outer guidance and adjustments help guide us in the right direction.
Inspired Yoga - I like to ask what inspires a teacher, that way I know what I'm receiving. The list of Yoga traditions and lineages can help you to better understand the different types. Personally, I always get a lot out of a teacher with an Iyengar Yoga background, who has abandoned the stern characteristic of this lineage and instead teaches from personal, inspired experience.
My influences have been Iyengar, Orit San-Gopte, Donna Hollman (Dancing the body of light, Iyengar and Scaraveli inspired) and Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore style - living and practicing in Mysore was a wonderful experience). Meditation has played a great role in my growth, giving me the insight and power to notice, heal and change. Discovering Vipassana, as taught by Goenka, was like finding the missing-link and became my practice for many years.
Now, I find that conscious motherhood and dealing with close relationship and partnership provide me with more opportunity and motivation to be conscious and compassionate than every before (and that means practicing being compassionate to oneself even when one loses it, as we all do on our way to enlightenment ;). Developing compassionate communication are my 'postures' making me flexible where I was stiff, making me open where I was closed, making me calm where I was anything but...(see Non-violent communication, developed by Dr. Marshal Rosenberg, in the book section). And my Yoga asana are becoming deeper and more connected to the core structures of our body: deep muscles, gravity and anti-gravity (lengthening and grounding), enhancing awareness, moving energy, fleshing out/moving into the body (becoming fully ALIVE!) and personal guidance.
The tools of my trade have become my bones, muscles, mind and breath. My mission- to connect, act and surrender moment to moment to life. to experience life supported within a greater energy, that of a planetary force, if not even a universal force, and the ease and power that is given freely, when we live in connection with this greater force, may suprise many. It is accesible to anyone, who practices deeply. That's why the information was considered so precious. It works.
Those of you who have tried yoga before, might have been surprised by how uncomfortable some of the postures are. What you may not have appreciated is that they were specifically designed to be so! Each posture puts us 'off balance' differently and our mission is to regain balance. With practice comes mastering the art of regaining our center to a point where an observer would not notice that we had lost it.
Mastery of Yoga is a state of maturity and expansion where one is stabilized and centered. Interactions are graceful, abundance, creative and peaceful.
We can all achieve this. We are on our way as we speak.
Who Are We?
This is a story that I heard in my yoga practice, it illustrates the problem, the purpose and the essence of this life...
A great party was in progress. It was a wonderful party, everything was perfect, and all the guests were happily enjoying themselves. Around midnight a crazy gatecrasher sneaked into the house and joined the celebration. He approached the host and said, 'What a boring party! What a suffocating atmosphere!' He went on and on about what a terrible party it was in such a convincing way that, finally, the host began to be persuaded. He forgot how much he had been enjoying himself until now and became convinced that it really was a terrible party. He even forgot that he himself was the host! So he said to the gatecrasher, 'You're absolutely right. It's awful! Let's go somewhere else.' 'Yes,' said the gatecrasher. 'I will organize a fantastic party - it will be my party, and you will be my guest.'
The gatecrasher began to promise him all sorts of wonderful, enticing things. They left the party together and went to the gatecrasher's house. It was a dreary place - ugly, dirty, and lifeless, and no one else was there. But the crazy gatecrasher, believing his own illusions of grandeur, kept trying to persuade his guest that the gloomy house was a beautiful mansion and that they were about to enjoy themselves at any moment. 'The fun will soon begin,' he kept saying.
But nothing happened. In the beginning the man believed him, but then he suddenly returned to his senses. 'Wait a moment!' he exclaimed. 'What is it?' said the gatecrasher, looking worried. 'Oh no!' exclaimed the man. 'What am I doing here in this horrible place? I have forgotten that I am the host of that other wonderful party - that it is my home! I have forgotten how much I was enjoying myself there.' Ignoring the gatecrasher's protests, the man walked out through the door and hurried back to his own house.
All his friends were still there having a great time; they hadn't even noticed he was gone. He smiled at them and happily rejoined the celebration.
My children, the entire human race is in a similar position. People have forgotten who they are. We are supposed to be living in our own wonderful home, where we belong, enjoying the splendid celebration of life and creation. Like the host in the story, we are, in fact, the center of it all, but we do not know it. Something has gone terribly wrong. The ego has sneaked in and has lured us into a state of utter forgetfulness, a state of unconsciousness. We have forgotten that we are the host of a glorious celebration. Instead, as if sleepwalking, we have left to join the ego, the 'crazy gatecrasher', at his non-existing party. The ego is an outsider. But we, the host, the real center of the wonderful 'party', around whom the whole play of creation is taking place, have forgotten the truth about our real Self. We have mistakenly attached ourselves to the ego, the impostor, identifying with the ego and its distorted views. We need to wake up from our stupor and remember that we are the 'host', the very center of creation. Then, we, too, will exclaim, 'Oh no, what am I doing here? I have forgotten that I am the host of that party! That is my home! I have completely forgotten how much I was enjoying myself over there!' Then you will not waste another moment. You will rush back to your real home, and remain within your blissful, joyful Self.