Holding on to anger, resentments, hurt and pain rather than forgiving is something that is very detrimental to our health.
When we can resolve major issues like power, control,
abandonment, jealousy, and anger issues the sooner we can move out of the drama and into a really creative, productive and exciting life in which we are truly growing!
When we overeat eat cooked foods, processed foods, junk foods, packaged foods loaded with chemicals, over-salty & over-flavoured foods, or we overeat then our colon is stressed. And when our colon is stressed, we are stressed. And then it’s much harder to be kind, positive, loving or forgiving.
We are so addicted to foods that harm us. And so it is easy to get addicted to addictive negative
emotions that harm us too.
And just as much it’s easy to get addicted to anger, hate, confusion, sadness, despair. Powerful emotions generating powerful addictive chemicals in our body.
But when we eat a raw diet, it’s possible to break the cycle. Diet and emotions work together in so many ways. And interesting that eating a diet which is not addictive in any way, we become free of addictions. We think more clearly. We aren’t so easily stressed.
This is what we focus on our retreats. We do a week of raw food, eating our way into health one bite at a time. We workout and bring play back into our life. And we do our inner work. And together these planes support each-other to generate a huge forward momentum that we are truly shift into a whole new way of life and a whole new level of vibrancy!
We offer personalised retreats to support you in any transition; a holiday just for you. Please see our personalised page for all the details.
Our very talented friend and yogi Ms Shabby tells us the intricacies of muscle activation to get into a handstand ~ with a little cheekiness on the side too!
Have you ever wondered what’s the essence of yoga? Or how to be cool and do handstand? I’ll tell you both.
I jump out of bed on a Saturday morning to snap on my gypster outfit after I have massaged green juice into my forehead. Then I whisk down to the closest yoga studio to plug into Mother Earth with my sitting bones and open my heart chakra while chanting a Sanskrit song whose meaning I don’t have the slightest clue about.
No, wait. Rewind. I jump out of bed on a Saturday morning to start the day with hot lemon water and wheat free pancake – yes, I’ve finally nailed that wheat free pancake with organic Nutella – and then I do a few sun salutations bare naked to air my labia and realise that my individual consciousness is one with the universal consciousness .
Maybe not. Start again. So I just jump out of bed to sit on my yoga mat for half an hour to dwell on how cool it would be to do all those one arm balances and fancy inverted postures in handstand like that tiny ashtan. But unfortunately my legs are long, my hips are wide, my shoulders are narrow and I have flabby arms, which cannot lift up and bear the weight of my lanky legs and massive bum.
Sexy and enlightened
I just want to look like Kino MacGregor and do all the fancy postures. I know that putting my legs on the top of my head in a tiny bikini in Scorpion posture will make me sexy and enlightened at the same time.
Now that I have figured out the essence of yoga, I’m going to reveal to you the secrets of handstand, so that you can be the weird yoga person at parties who entertains their pals after you’ve got tired of small talk, or you can do it on a sunny beach in front of some exotic temple and ask someone to take a photo of you to post in on Facebook.
Inverted postures are the asanas that have the most rejuvenating and energising effect on your body if you do them properly, and for long enough periods.
To be able to do handstand, you need not only core (abdominal) strength, but also strong shoulder flexors (anterior deltoids), strong shoulder depressors (pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi), and substantial elbow extensors (triceps) which will all make a joint effort to help you maintain the handstand once you have lifted your legs off the floor with the help of your core muscles. If your shoulder muscles and your triceps don’t have enough strength, your shoulders and back will collapse, and you will fall back to the ground no matter how much core strength you have.
When you are in handstand-preparation – which means that you are bending forward, feet still on the floor while leaning on your arms, and then you start shifting your whole weight gradually on your arms – your shoulder joints are semi-flexed and you try to activate the shoulder flexors in a shortened state. After that, from handstand-preparation to actual hand-stand you have to go from shoulder semi-flexion to complete shoulder-flexion and that is when you need the strong shoulder flexors and depressors, or else, you won’t be able to push and hold yourself up from semi-flexion to flexion.
In the moment of lifting-up, however, you use mainly rectus abdominis, your diaphragm, a little bit of transversus abdominis, hip-extensors (glutes and hamstrings) and spinal extensors (the hip-extensors and the shoulder-flexors will switch on the spinal extensors, namely the erector spinae).
There are quite a few yoga postures in which you can train each of these muscle groups I have mentioned above, but you should know how to activate those muscle groups effectively as it is easy to do these postures in a completely non-effective way:
How to train the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis:
Do half sit-ups, Pendulum Posture (Lolasana), and Kneeling Plank (see below for how to do kneeling plank)
How to train the spinal extensors:
Do Locust Posture (Shalabasana)
How to train the hip-extensors:
Activate the glutes and the hamstrings in asanas like the Unsupported Standing Frog (Niralamba Utthita Eka Pada Bhekasana), or in Triangle Posture (Trikonasana) and in the Side-lengthening Posture (Parsvakonasana) by trying to ‘stretch the mat with your feet’.
How to train the shoulder-flexors and depressors:
In Kneeling Plank:
Armpits (shoulder-depressor pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi) should push forward towards the hips while elbows and hands should push away from the hips. Hips and sitting bones should push towards the hands by which you activate the rectus abdominis as well. The knees should push away from the hands as if trying to do hip-extension. So in short, armpits and sitting-bones should be pushed towards each other while knees and hands should be pushed away from each other.
If you push the knees forward, that will train your rectus abdominis, but if you push the knees backwards, the deltoids will be trained more (as the hands will push forward) and the rectus abdominis will switch off.
In Downward Facing Dog:
Push sitting-bones and armpits towards each other, while arms and legs push away from each other. The hips and the knees try to extend; the ankles try to plantarflex (as if you want to push your feet into the ground) and the shoulders try to flex just like the wrists, meanwhile the elbows extend.
The science of Mudras is a big part of yoga and is based on the fundamental principles of life and the five elements of Fire, Air, Ether, Earth and Water corresponding with each finger of the hand.
They are mainly performed as gestures by fingers, hand positions combined with yoga postures or are performed on their own. They are also often done during meditation.
Mudras also known as energy controls hold electromagnetic power which is said once held maintains equilibrium in the body elements.
There are even prescriptions of holding particular mudras for set periods of time for rejuvenating the body, healing diseases and to also help with focus. A mudra for any ailment!
The Yoga Synergy sequences incorporate them within their system and is a great opportunity to experience their effects whilst practicing yoga.
For the purpose of these next few posts we will keep the focus on particular hand mudras and later expand into generating mudras within postures.
PANKAJ MUDRA or also known as the Lotus Mudra
Is a symbol of purity and offering, and a part of worship.
In this mudra both the thumbs and little fingers touch each other.
This mudra is said to develop the fire and water elements as well as balancing them out.
‘Like a lotus, which remains detached from the mud in which it blooms, a practitioner remains detached from the mud of attachment, while continuing their meditation.’
This mudra has a cooling effect on the body, the nervous system improves and the mind becomes calms. It’s said to be a great pacifier for fevers and to work well with blood disorders.
For me I feel like my whole mood lightens up when I make this gesture it makes me want to smile. Try it out for yourself and leave a comment below!
Every 9 weeks I teach a silent (physical) class. My retreats always finish with a silent practice. And in workshops I will usually have a ‘silent’ break somewhere in the middle.
A silent practice is where I lead by having students follow my movements. But just because I stop talking does not mean things go quiet!
In fact, the opposite can be true. You start to hear other sounds more intently. Other voices, the water trickling, the wind swishing, the sound of clothes rustling.
It is why many teachers discourage people from leaving a class while others are meditating or relaxing; you might think you are being quiet but when the teacher stops talking all other sounds can be amplified.
And even if we could be alone in a room, we still would not be in silence. You start to hear the sounds of your breath, the sounds of the inner workings of your body—stomach gurgling, pulse throbbing. And, unless you are a seasoned meditator, you will likely find your internal voice can take on a noise all of its own!
That said, a non-verbal (physical) yoga class can help you in many ways. Since I teach one every 9 weeks and will be teaching at least one at our retreats, you will get to one eventually. Below are some of the benefits you can expect.
First, it is a practice of letting go.
Without a teacher’s verbal instructions you need to ‘be’ where you are at that present moment in time. Indeed, you cannot ‘be’ anywhere else. When no one is telling you how to do bakasana or a handstand (or even something less complex), if you cannot figure it out, you need to let that pose go.
That means you also get a snapshot of where you ‘are’ at that moment in time and what your level of readiness for particular postures is. It gives you some insight into what you might need to cultivate further.
Second, you gain an appreciation of just how much mental energy it takes to listen.
Listening is a great skill. It helps you to be a kinder, more socially able person.
But language processing, even when people are saying helpful or kind things, takes up a lot of your brain’s capacity.
When you do not need to listen anymore you are free to follow your own internal voice and intuition. Again, you become more in tune with what is going on with you at that moment in time.
Many religious orders and spiritual retreats harness the insightful power of this type of silence.
But being in silence does mean being alone. A third benefit is the amazing capacity of the verbal silence to enhance a feeling of connectedness.
In a silent class you are not just doing your own thing entirely. You are still following the basic movements and timing of the class.
And the silence combined with shared movement, helps you feel more connected to others in the group. You sort of become a bit like a school of fish who move collectively—communicating via something other than spoken language.
The connection is not just to the group, however, because the silence of the group also helps you become more in tune with the environment. You attain a keener sense of the ground beneath you, breeze and sun on your skin, wildlife around you, and the people passing by.
A fourth benefit is that this type of practice can help you out of ‘over-thinking’.
With no verbal instructions you have less to question—what does that mean? What is she talking about? Am I doing it right?
Over-thinking is one of things that can block movement of energy through our body and, as such, block feelings of overall well being. It can make us stiff, rigid, anxious, and prevent us from seeing clearly.
When we cannot ‘see clearly’ we do not feel at our best. We tend not to make the best decisions.
These four things—letting go, going inside, a sense of greater connection to the group and environment, and thinking less—all help you to practice bringing about a sense of calm.
Most people, at the end of the silent practice, find it easier to meditate and find the quality of their meditation much enhanced.
We will be sharing some beautiful silent practices with you at our retreats and in the classes we teach around the world. Looking forward to seeing you somewhere soon!
A few weeks ago I popped up a post of us practicing yoga on top of some blocks. That helped my skinny arms and tummy get strong.
Then I looked over from the blocks. These bike racks hang out near where I hang out and so I thought I would see if there was a way for us to hang out together.
I tried a few push variations with me on top and pushing down with my armpits to bring my knees to chest. Then I realised I was finding a lot of things to push on but was there a way to get some pull action going on.
It lead to the upside down variation of shoulderstand, which I have called a flying shoulderstand, and you can check it out in the video below.
This gave great pull action around the armpits and also I tried to minimise momentum and use my tummy muscles to help me move around and into and out of the posture. I am actually pretty weak so you can see a little swing here and there.
This would be better if I were higher off the ground so I could try and let my neck be a bit free.
I did not want to put my head on the ground and I don’t recommend anyone even try what I am doing without some supervision. If you are not strong enough you would fall on the back of your neck and that is obviously not good so I am not advising go out and do this at all or unthinkingly. This is mainly for my students and safe practitioners.
Hmm, I wonder if we will find some bike racks in Bali for our retreat?
Happy and safe practicing!
As a teacher I am always trying to demonstrate active movement and show where movement may be coming from. Sometimes this is tricky because what you see may not be where the movement arises.
Also, sometimes a more passive posture may end up looking much the same as the active posture. But the feeling is completely different.
In the first picture I used active spinal movements to come into the pose.
In the second I came in by ‘falling’ with gravity and mainly by flexing my hips.
While they look much the same, the feeling in the torso especially is completely different.
Active movement (spinal forward flexion first) – Non-active movement (hip flexion first)
I don’t want to suggest one is right or wrong. I choose to do the first version in my practice and teaching to help develop strength and mobility in the torso.
Aside from helping my spine feel good, moving actively and having activated muscles around my tummy in particular, helps me come into the arm balance variation that follows this posture in our current sequence.
Here I have to say, I got a six-pack without ever doing a crunch or by adding a ‘core yoga’ section into my classes or self-practice.
I simply do active movements throughout my entire class and am pretty much doing a ‘sit-up’, aka active spinal forward flexion, in every forward bend I do.
Back to the postures at hand! There are two. A standing posture, then an arm balance.
Watch the video first to get a sense of the flow and process.
Spinally speaking, the standing posture is basically a twisting, side bending, forward bending backbend. That is, once I am in the lunge and lengthen lower back (sitting bones down, top of pelvis back), I do a twist, a side bend, a forward bend, then a little back bend in my upper back. A little hip flexion creeps in but after the spinal forward flexion.
Step 1: Get into a lunge
In this lunge I have my back heel up. That is because I am going to make this posture dynamic and move into the arm balance. Traditionally heel is down.
Many people find having heel up difficult to balance. You need to be using your feet and legs actively to assist with the balance. I grip with my toes lightly.
Also, if you allow your hips to be sinking it is often a sign you are not using your legs actively enough and will make it harder to balance. I keep my hips a little higher and legs active here. Nothing wrong with going lower but just in an active and not sinking way.
Step 2: Lengthen lower back
Here I have taken sitting bones down, top of pelvis back in order to lengthen my lower back.
To me, this is different and more subtle than ‘tucking under’. Remember, rather than fret about action, go for feeling. The feeling here is to have space in your lower back and not squashing.
In this picture I have also lengthened my entire spine. I have taken my lower ribs back and up lightly. You cannot see my neck but I have head down, neck back slightly to lengthen back of neck.
I have begun to push my armpits forward and lightly down, elbows lightly up.
Step 3: Active spinal twist
I try to move from base of spine upwards. That means, turning from navel, area then lower ribs, then chest, then shoulders.
Look at the front foot. See how much it is still working.
Spine still long, not arching.
Step 4: Active spinal side bending
Here I initiate side bending by bringing back hip forward and up towards the rib. At the same time I am reaching opposite arm up and forward from my waist/pelvis and trying to move that side hip back slightly so the whole side body lengthens.
The side of my body that closest in this picture is firming. This side bending firmness will help me in the arm balance.
You can see I start to have more weight on my front foot—the back heel is raising as well in preparation for the arm balance to soon come.
At this stage I am in a back lengthening, twisting, side bending posture.
Step 5: Spinal forward flexion
Now I have begun a spinal forward flexion process.
See the space you can see between the top of my thigh and torso and how the angle is still relatively open.
I am now in a spine lengthening, twisting, side bending, forward bend.
There is no need to go deeper. Unless you are coming to the arm balance, that is!
To get to the ground I need some hip flexion. I initiate hip flexion here, after I have done my active twisting, side bending, forward bend. Importantly, I maintain these actions as I lower.In my own practice I often choose to stay at this point here. It feels really good.
I can do the arm balance easily but for me it seems unnecessary compared to how nice it feels to stay actively in this posture for some time.
At this point a t lot of yoga teachers in classes I have attended will come up and try and get me to put my back heel on the ground, to try and put my hand on the ground, to try and take my legs further apart.
There is nothing wrong with that. But this feels so much better. Perhaps it is not pretty but once you start to appreciate active movements and see what is going on in the posture you see this as something lovely and delicious feeling.
I am not leaning or using the bottom arm on my knee at all. If you were to use it then do so in an intelligent and active way. That would mean using the arm to press lightly into the thigh and pressing the thigh back into the arm. I am definitely not using my arm to ‘wrench’ or twist my spine here. I am also not sinking into it.
Step 7: More hip flexion and knee bending to get hands to ground
The only way to get to the ground is to get some more hip flexion in there, front knee bends more as well.
A lot more in fact. You can see it has started to come in front of my toes. I need to be firm behind my knee to maintain the integrity of my knee here. My ankles are moderately flexible in a squat so my heel can stay down. If you need it is perfectly fine to lift that heel. In fact, it might help you to keep firm behind the knee.
You can see hands are coming in front of the foot and off to the side.
I am maintaining all of the actions from previous steps. That means my front knee is actually only lightly touching my arm.
Notice how at no stage did I start pushing my arm into the knee to get me into this twist. They are touching lightly here. I do not want that front knee to get heavy. It will become heavy if you are not using your torso actively and you will feel like you are sinking in this posture instead of lifting.
This picture sort of shows you how my whole back body is lengthened, not flattened. You can see I am moving my chest into my upper back and moving my shoulder blades around the sides of my chest.
Notice I am transferring weight forward. You can see this as I am coming more onto the tops of my toes on the back foot.
Step 8: Enhance side bending
Leaning forward with more weight on my hands and pushing the floor away. I don’t want weight on my feet in an arm balance. I need to support it by pushing into the floor with arms to get lift.
I am gripping with finger tips as thought grabbing at the ground (not flattening fingers).
I am maintaining all the core actions.
This allows me to enhace side bending by bringing the back knee into my shoulder. I can only do this without feeling heavy or sinking if I have kept all of the actions in the torso.
You can see weight is more and more over the hands and my front heel has started to lift. I need lightness in this foot to come up.
I squeeze my wrists together and keep feeling as though my elbows are trying to come together.
Step 9: Lean forward, smile, stay firm but calm, and lift
Compare this picture with the previous one and you see my shoulders have come further forward over the finger tips. I have to lean forward without dropping into my shoulders to come into this position.
Actually, let me correct myself. I don’t have to. You can drop and do this but it will probably feel awful on your wrists and shoulders!
If you can sneak a look at my tummy here you can see is it active!
Step 10: Legs out!
I continue leaning forward. See how far my shoulders have come in front of wrists. I suppose if you were stronger you would not need to lean as far forward but I am not that strong. I am trying not to lower my chest but to stay lifted.
Maintaining all previous actions, I just straighten my legs.
The top thigh is rolling in and bottom thigh is rolling out.
I am happy and calm and firm and strong and feeling good. If you walked past me I could say hello and tell you how good I was feeling and have a little chat without getting breathless.
Remember that this arm balance is just a bit of show ponying really. It looks impressive but it won’t make you happier or healthier!
Staying in the standing version might help you more than the arm balance.
I proceeded to do the splits right there and then, with no preparation.
Well, let’s say I managed the position but did something to my butt that had me limping for a month!
These days I can do the pose almost first thing in the morning as I have been practicing for many years. However, most people will need quite a bit of preparation.
The splits should not feel like too much stretching. It is not about splitting apart.
Working actively means the pose is actually about coming together again.
You remain at whatever stage you feel comfortable in (feel like lengthening and relaxing, not stretching and tugging). But first, some keys to practice. Below I have shown step-wise progression into the posture.
Hover the curser over the photos to see the steps
There are two key things I am doing in each stage. The first also has a little subplot.
The back thigh is rolling in, which means you might feel the inner thigh firming a little. If you could turn around and see your knee is trying to move so it is more towards the centre line of your body.
The subplot here is that I am also trying to move the side of front hip back and draw side of back hip forward.
If you are not mindful the opposite tends to happen. That is, when you roll the front thigh out it can often bring the side of front hip forward and when rolling the back thigh in it can often send the side of back hip backward. So you need to watch out for this.
The second key thing I am doing is to try to suck my legs or feet together.
Yes. I am not actually trying to split them apart.
Sucking them together could be likened to someone at foot trying to push your legs back together (what I am doing).
Whereas most beginners just try to let their legs come apart. Actually, they do not even do that so much as let the weight of their entire pelvis and torso just hang and sag in the middle. Its not a pleasant feeling. Sucking it up is key.
In our yoga practice of this pose we need to be thinking of trying to draw our feet back together again (while they move apart).
This makes the posture active rather than passive.
It will help make you stronger and more mobile.
The video shows these movements in action. I have also provided a 2nd video to show advanced variations of the posture (intended for demonstrational purposes).
I wasn’t sure about writing a detox blog this year because it seemed predictable, but something clicked inside of me and I wanted to write about how we can learn to listen more about our body and know when it is time to reboot or reset the button.
There are many reasons why people have the need to clean out the cobwebs. Here the main reasons:
digestive problems (bloating,skin problems)
Gain more energy
clear mind and focus
inspired and motivate
Realigning with our internal guidance system is the reason why I detox. I love the way my food-mind -body comes into balance. We need to learn how to listen to our body’s and know when it is time.
Here is a really simple plan.
1 big glass of warm water with Lemon or Apple cider vinegar upon rising.
1/2 an hour later 1 smoothie
2 cups firmly packed Greens: spinach, kale, collard, purslane,
1/2 cup mint
1/2 lemon with rind for bioflavanoids
1 mango fresh or frozen
2 cups water
1 Tbs. spirulina, hemp powder, maca, optional
Blend in a high speed blender until smooth
Drink lots of water during the day
Coriander, Spinach Sweet Potato Soup
2 cups Spinach or Kale
1/2 cup coriander
1-2 Tbs. Coconut oil
1/2 sweet potato cubed
1 small nob tumeric fresh
2 cups water
Blend in a high speed blender and consume around 4 pm
Daily skin brushing – The skin is our biggest organ, by invigorating the whole body we allow the toxins to come out. It’s a really simple process to get the skin smooth and glowing, and also great for those stubborn cellulite areas too!
Sauna – infra-red saunas are the best, but any sauna will steam-clean you from the inside out. Make this a weekly habit for a month and just feel the difference.
Exercise – this means walking, yoga, swimming – get out and about as much as you can.
Meditation – Find a nice tranquil place and make this your special meditation spot. Just 15 minutes a day with the intention of being still and quiet will do wonders for you.
By making small changes to your routine you can experience great benefits. It doesn’t mean you have to go-hard or go-home, it doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself and push yourself to the edge every time. Just a few simple additions to your daily life will bring a spring back to your step, and you never know perhaps they will become a regular part of your life.
Be happy, love life and shine!
The bare naked sky above you is good for you. That ceiling and those walls just contain you.
The breeze on your face is good for you. That air conditioning (or heating) just dries you out.
The ground beneath your feet–be it grass or dirt or sand is good for you. Wooden floors are nice, don’t get me wrong, but they are inside!!
When you practice outside beneath an open blue sky you look up and feel almost as though you are a part of it. It’s breath-taking.
When you open your eyes from savasana to behold a starry night you can’t help but feel at peace.
It’s awe inspiring.
When you start your pre-dawn practice and watch the sun rise, you feel the sun’s rays shimmering on your skin.
When you practice in nature you are continually amazed by the beauty of the world around you.
No matter what wallpaper is pasted, what music is played, or what statues are placed, I will never find a better place to practice than the great outdoors.
On days when I feel exhausted, I always feel better if I just open a window or door.
On days when I think I can’t practice, I simply step outside and find myself drawn to move or sit quietly and meditate.
It might be freezing, it might be boiling. It might be windy, it might be raining.
I simply pop my head outside and figure out what I need to wear and where I can be as sheltered as necessary without ‘succumbing’ to the elements.
It can be hard. Sometimes you need to be creative. But it is always worth it.
One of the main elements on our retreats is to get connected to mother nature. To be inspired and supported by the simple things in life.
Why don’t you try for yourself? Expose yourself to the outdoors and feel yourself embraced by nature.
In most Asian countries people sit on the floor for most of their daily tasks. All their meals and socialising as well as their general work is still done mainly on the ground. This means that their hips are open and their spines are able to move independently from their hips, this also requires having great strength in the legs and core to be able to get up and down from such high distances with ease, hence Padmasana is a basic pose for many Asian people.
All these elements are really important to able to get into a seated lotus position. In the West our chair-culture has prevented us from developing these movements and openings. So when we start to practice yoga, just sitting on the floor is our biggest practice.
Moving the spine in different leg positions allows the softening to happen. The ideal way to get into any pose is to move into it without any assistance. By focusing on active movements we develop the muscle intelligence without having to force any joint into a position that might not be ready. In Padmasana so much care needs to be taken around the knee area, but both the hip and ankle joints can also be compromised if these areas are also too stiff.
Just like we cross our arms easily, our legs should be able to move just as gracefully. One of the easier ways to practice lotus is in a headstand where gravity works in our favour. But to do this, first our headstand needs to be proficient so do take care.
So in your normal practice focus on active movements with the usual standing hip opening poses (forward bends, lunges, trikonasana variations, warrior variations, gadjastan variations) as well as moving actively (no hands) into sitting poses.
Make sure to actively externally rotate the hip that should be externally rotated in those postures. Also make sure to remain active in the pose so as not to not sink into hips. Use principles of activating muscles while in lengthened positions.
We can see how a more natural bodied person, Ramali can come into a pose like Padmasana (lotus) with ease and without hands.
Ramali takes her legs into position in two very smooth movements. This is what we are looking for in our practice.While Sonja can do this first thing in the morning, with no preceding warm ups or movements, as we can see in the video she still has a slight ‘sawing’ action to get there. It’s all a practice.
This article was not written to dishearten. But for us to think about the truth and reality of what our body is able to do of its own accord.
Based on ideas of active movements and trying not to force your body into position we encourage students to try to move their legs into postures using just their legs. This brings much more body awareness ~ play around with it when you are next on the mat!
Happy and safe practicing.
Gekko interviewed Oksana Sokol, an Australian yoga teacher who lives on Bali to whom yoga and healthy lifestyle practices brought a more meaningful existence. We have all dwelled in that dark place of not knowing what is our direction, or purpose in life but having sensed there is something bigger and better out there for us. Oksana changed her life dramatically, she moved to Bali and has been helping others make positive and conscious lifestyle choices. Creating a yoga program for disadvantaged children at the Bali Global Foundation and organising yoga and raw food retreats several times a year.
Oksana: I was living as a successful film technician’s life working in the TV and in the Film industry. Life was in the fast lane. I was busy making a name for myself, hopping from one big job to the next, money fame and fortune was always just one step ahead of me.
But at the end of the day, what became quite apparent to me was that I was living a really unfulfilled and not so happy life. I just knew there was something else for me but I didn’t know what it was.
After a set of crises one day I woke up realising that I was lost. Most of my relationships where dysfunctional and I had no idea where up or down was.
My first yoga practice was not asana, it was meditation and energy work. This is how I begun healing myself. I became involved with Master Chao Kok Suis’ work with pranic healing. I began to learn how to approach life differently as the old ways weren’t working for me. In fact when I looked around it wasn’t working for many people around me so I had no role models that had it all pulled together. I started to explore, learn and push boundaries that were all new to me. I detoxed the body, I read and learnt about new ways of living and practices.
My whole perspective on life shifted. I stopped watching TV, and started participating in conscious conversations.
I came to Bali to do yoga teacher training over 4 years ago and I never left. I whole-heartedly embarked on this journey ever since. I created a yoga program for disadvantaged children at the Bali Global Foundation which gave me a platform to put things into action; the path of service to others. Doing something outside of ourselves, for others less fortunate, unconditionally is an amazing tool to shift our perspective – especially if we think we don’t have ‘enough’ of something in our lives.
Gekko: How do yoga student s benefit from their practice? What changes do you notice in students?
Oksana: Yoga is actually a science, a path to learn about and develop your inner self. If you do certain things in a particular way you get certain results. As Pattabhi Jois said: Practice. Practice. All is coming.
Everybody’s yoga journey is unique, some people come to yoga to get a work out, others come with injuries or discomforts that need attention, and some are looking to find peace and stillness in their hearts.
Whatever it is that attracts us to the practice, at the end of the day it’s a vehicle for us to appreciate the connection that already exists within is.
We come to a realisation that the physical body and the mind are connected to everything and everyone else – as big as that seems to be.
Changes can happen immediately or they can happen more subtle with time. From feeling more flexible and at ease with our bodies to being able to control our emotions and reactions to things – yoga is such a wonderful tool.
Gekko: What makes you happy?
Oksana: I consider myself to be very lucky to be living a life I could have only dreamt of. All the things that I do in life make me happy, and I keep my focus on the things that make me happy. It’s interconnected.
The connections that I have now with my friends, my family, with my community trough my yoga practice all contribute to this. I finally feel like I have a sense of belonging, in my own skin and on this planet. This wasn’t always the case but it has been a wonderful journey so far and I can only look forward to all the future adventures that life has in store for me.
Posted by Iva Tarle from Gekko Retreats