Mandala maiden

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More than ever we want comforting and enlivening rituals in our day-to-day lives.

Since about 2010 I’ve created maybe one hundred mandala installations using natural materials. Obvious things like stones, shells, flowers, leaves, sand and seed pods are abundant almost any time in natural settings. Even more satisfying are the “finds” – like feathers, seaweed, coral, minerals, bird nests and bones. Even washed-up fish have presented themselves.

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The limits to materials are endless, and they are authentic to that time & place. Sometimes they might take 1-2 hours to complete, but often 10-20 minutes or so of contemplation & creation is enough to create something precious.

I have promoted mandalas as a meditation technique and general celebratory art device so much so that recently a friend asked me to pen some thoughts and suggestions about how to use them. They are such a lovely tool for kids, for meditation, healing therapy and simply for their visual delight.

Meaning more or less “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, mandalas (whether drawn, painted or assembled) represent wholeness and harmony. That’s how I feel when I complete one – a great wave of contentedness, connectedness and gratitude. Most of them are fresh, spontaneous & unrecorded, they are mine alone.

The final creations are just a sweet little snapshot of my inner self at that specific moment in time.

I shape them mostly in a circular pattern, arranging materials in typically a star shape of 3-6 arms. This is the simplest way to begin. Some days they look like snowflakes, other times compasses, other times more complex patterns form.

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On some rare instances they may be square, but this usually doesn’t feel good, hard edges are not my mandalas. Metaphorically, they represent my intention to (kindly) soften & polish my hard edges.

Creating symbols, patterns & the creative repetition of arranging leaves & flowers with curved (& sometimes willful) forms is soothing and restorative. There are similar contemplative qualities to say, knitting or weaving. There’s a puzzle to solve…….and a beautiful feeling to chase…..

How it feels is the crux of the entire practice. The purpose of a mandala is to help focus inwards. Their forms – like any art, chanting, prayer or meditative practice are an offering, using our hands to create an offering of ourselves to the universe. Tibetan lamas (who call mandalas “khyil-khor”) can make hundreds of thousands of them in sand over the course of their devotional lifetime. It is a practice of giving without the intention of personal gain, purpose or motivation, without the satisfaction of a lasting item. For many people this is really challenging.

The essence of the material is captured, honoured. Since the offering is unique and made from nature-created materials there can be no bad mandalas. For this reason I give no meaty instructions on how to create them. There are few rules.

Firstly, a mandala practice should come to you. The best ones are created in a moment of pause somewhere and will likely find you when your mind is clear and your heart is full. Create a slice of free time to simply play. Perhaps start with a silent walk around your yard observing the materials you see each day.

Start with a single object in the centre. Whilst deliberately controlling your breathing, see what people, emotions, intentions, dreams or themes come up as you place the first object.

The placement of all items should take time. This is not about finishing the piece, rather the quality of the time spent contemplating the placement of objects. By considering the qualities of the materials (shape, colour, texture, etc) and experimenting with the visual satisfaction of material arrangements, busy brain patterns are slowed and deeper thoughts and sensations materialize.

To date my mandala creation has helped overcome homesickness, celebrated birthdays & supported a classroom of stressed tweens. A dabble on holidays at a resort resulted in a stunning display of fellow guests following suit. A terrible volume of plastic waste collected lakeside was transformed into a stunning star.

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I never intended to transform personal dabbling into direct offerings for others, but perhaps that is a natural progression since these really are offerings to the whole world. It’s my wish that many people find a “nature altar”, a silent space for themselves in order to allow creations come spontaneously and gently whenever the urge strikes.

There is perfection in the imperfection of nature-made materials and a spiritual beauty that is ever-present if you learn how to see it. This natural landing pad of stillness – if used without too much expectation of results – can deliver a sweet practice of meditation and/or prayer.

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There is so much more, so many practitioners whose work inspires. By all means look at Day Schildkret‘s daily offerings at morningaltars.com. For Australian workshops and retreats see Karen & Gary Scotts “Mandala Magic” for drawn/painted mandalas. And Kathy Klein’s delicate floral whimsy’s are stunning.

Should you need guidance, if you think this practice might serve you in your own life, workplace or 2016 family calendar, I’d love to share more…….please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For celebrations like event openings, weddings, christenings, etc, mandalas are a wonderful device for collective reflection & expression.

Or for no reason at all…………

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#43 – Body Intelligent – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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It was only a phrase, but sometimes that’s all it takes.

Body intelligence she said. Oh boy, what a gem.

We (my husband & I) crawled out of bed at 5am and discovered a new place to do yoga, right near where we live. I mean RIGHT where we live, about 1 block away. We can almost see into our kitchen sink from the studio.

It’s brilliant to be at a space right on six! A new learning about ourselves – we LOVE to get up early, we love even more to get up early and do yoga. How I wish more people would also like that…….such a great self-love/exercise/healthy time of day.

Adelaide Flow Yoga is a new space. A simple, beachy kind of place. I feel happy there, stripped of complexity. The owners are from this city originally, but were in Melbourne I believe for some time – following their yoga passion. Adelaide should be glad they’re back.

This day, it was only a small class. Typically there I have been with a sweet 10 or so, a perfect number (in my mind) for intimate early morning classes.The lovely Sam moved over to be close to us, so it was virtually a private class. Lots more observations and reminders, etc. I love it when my teacher is actively engaged in teaching, is observant and diligent and offers adjustments right through the class. I have been in classes before where the teacher does 99% of their own practice out the front – and it feels like I am a spectator, like I can’t interrupt and ask a question, and I’m not really the main reason they’re there. She held the space for us well and with ease.

We worked through many, many poses and variations on classical hatha/vinyasa. Less emphasis on the vinyasa flow which I like. In talking about body intelligence – I find that over-emphasis on the vinyasa part makes me slack, I don’t use enough muscle energy whilst going through chaturanga pose and usually wind up feeling discomfort in the shoulder cuff.

The movements were solid enough to throw my beloved into a sweat, so that box was ticked for him. For me we played with enough intermediate>advanced postures and I was able to push to my edge a bit, so that was perfect. Went into a proper tripod from crow for the first time, is always blissful to find a new place for your body to be !!

So body intelligence, what was relevant about that this day?

Well, in this class we were very introspective – which is important as it allows the time to listen and observe what limbs, muscles, energy levels and mood your body is in. This is really important in a yoga class.

And it’s equally as important outside yoga too. When did you last simply sit and observe even for a minute what your body was up to?

We live in a very disembodied world, we tie up our beautiful body tool in awkward cubicles at unhealthy desks and squint and are largely all alone for hours on end. Our nerves, muscles, mind & heart were never designed to do this. We are adrenaline filled and sleep deprived. We feed our bodies as if they’re machines, “fuelling up”. I don’t have to spell out the consequences of what this does.  We mistreat and ignore our bodies and they pay us back with fatigue, lack of focus and exhaustion.

We hold vast intelligence and wisdom from skin sensitivity right through to problem-solving in our bodies. Yoga and other modalities like meditation allow this to be opened up. Our stunningly complex systems are full of wisdom on how to heal ourselves, how to move without pain, how to relate to one another without conflict. It’s all possible, and it’s all in our bodies. 

Here’s 5 basic ways to expand your body intelligence;

1)  Breathwork

Set a timer, remind yourself when in a queue, find time each day to stop and observe your breath. It’s likely you’ll be breathing shallowly, or possibly holding your breath. Take a few very deep breaths.

2) Core

Pull in your belly! Again when you go to sit or get into a car, or any kind of transition – draw in your core. This has the immediate effect of adjusting almost your entire spine. And the breath usually follows. 

3) Scan

At times, scan your body. While at meals, in the shower or on the couch. How does your body feel? It is not simply just there to carry your brain around. Show it some respect. What hurts, what doesn’t ! Any tight spots, are you thirsty? Make this a daily practice. 

4) Body language

What is your body telling you? Are your footsteps light or heavy? Are your shoulders slumped, expressing a need for joy? When did you last reach for something with the opposite arm? Observe all your body movements for a time and see what’s there. It’s fascinating.

5) Rest

No TV, no noise, no books. Just try it. Not in bed either. Find a place on the floor and simply lie down, and take 5, even just a single minute to see what’s going on with you. Set the timer if you have to. Lock the kids out of the toilet if needs be ! It can become a very powerful practice to bring in major boosts of energy in a very short time. 

So thank you Adelaide Flow Yoga for the reminder about staying in the body. Must get my body back to your classes this week………

You can find them at

adelaideyogaflow

ADDRESS: LEVEL 1, 237-239 UNLEY ROAD, MALVERN, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

EMAIL: INFO@ADELAIDEYOGAFLOW.COM.AU

WEBSITE http://www.adelaideyogaflow.com.au

# 44 Good Yogi Bad Yogi – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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Recently with the 52 Yoga Project, I’ve been getting a bit attached to the activity of going to lots of different classes & observing teachers, etc. It is definitely not the main intention for my practice, nor for the project…..but it’s taken on a bit of a life of it’s own. I have quite an analytical mind, so it can be difficult sometimes to switch off in class to the finer points of the teachers delivery.

So, there was a teacher last week I went to ~ a tall, graceful, beautiful person. Quite a serious & introspective style with lots of wonderful challenging aspects to the class overall. It felt lovely.

But there was one habit I couldn’t get past. Oh dear. It was the phrase “Begin to”.

“Begin to reach, begin to bend, begin to take your left arm, etc, etc, etc”.

When I took teachers training, we were taught about delivery of yoga teaching language. One beautiful aspect of the Ashaya-style teaching is the art of direct language. “Bring your knee to your chest” is greatly preferable to “Now, begin to bring your knee to your chest”.

See the difference? Those extra words are not necessary and keep us at arms length from our students and what it is we are asking them to do. In listening to a teacher now ~ as a teacher ~ I find it is often tricky to switch off from the delivery, from the words used, the phrases, the sequencing. Things like “begin to” and “OK, now we will” are driving me nuts. If we are asking our students to be fully present in the moment in class, so too, we need to be fully present to what we are saying. The “begin to” I compare it with the phrase, you know, when someone says “we should catch up” but you know they will never call….there’s a certain level of insincerity or shyness or reluctance to truly open up.

Rant over.

Please, please please, when you teach, leave the front-loading of phrases right out. If there is a pause once the movement is made, you can easily insert a themed piece about what you feel as a result of the movement, what benefits it brings to your body and your mind.

Maybe I need to go and join the Bad Yogis…….

Ever heard of them? The Bad Yogis? It’s a little mini-movement not to take yoga so seriously. How you don’t have to do the difficult poses, have a yoga image, be on Instagram, only stick to one kind of defined yoga school or style, etc. It’s quite a beautiful concept.

I am stuck between wanting to love (and not judge) and be as be as rigorous and giving I can possibly can be as a teacher.

Sure sounds like yoga to me. Yin & Yang, dark & light…..to begin or not begin, that is the question.

 

#45 A Cosmic Connection – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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Could you imagine anything more beautiful than doing yoga a stone’s throw from the sand and saltwater?

This is the stuff of many a yogis dreams. Usually it requires an expensive plane ticket to an exotic location, not just a studio down the road.

Cosmic Yoga is a stunning studio in the beachy north-western Adelaide suburb of West Lakes. It lives up to it’s name even in location alone…….

Fresh, beautifully yet simply styled, it is a sensory delight.

I took the trip up there to visit Inese and tried out a really solid “foundation yoga” class. Nice phrase, humbling. Not really sure of what style, what school of yoga was being taught. And I still don’t. Phew. I’m not one for rigid styles, am more interested in the spontaneous mix of whatever suits the world, picking my way through styles, forms and ideas.

In this warm, pristine, happy studio our  teacher reminded us to search for love rather than be consumed by fear. It was great to have an articulate coach use some theming, albeit only implied not explicitly used in asana. (Am reminded again how I love strong interwoven theming in yoga……..)

The vibe of the classroom energy was pretty open and generous. The fluid warm ups were great. Balancing poses with a drishti point – a point of focus (i.e, the water) were delicious. And Inese has the most exquisite yoga music playlist I had ever heard……..oh, that alone……..

But an admission. Faced with fear I am.

I went as a potential new yoga teacher, CV in tow, knowing full well the distance would preclude me from going there to teach regularly, but having to keep exploring the Adelaide yoga community anyway to find my place. Despite being a teensy bit paralysed by the notion of finding my voice to teach, I’m hoping that the notion that “the best students make the best teachers” – hence the idea behind this blog – to explore our yoga community, will help me along.

Here’s some thoughts on being a new teacher. (Bear in mind most true teachers consider themselves new since there is an infinite amount to learn……)

* There is so much more to offer students than simply becoming masterful at most poses then simply showing others how to copy those physical actions.

* To create community, people who “live” yoga all day long, that’s really something.

* As a new teacher, rest in the knowledge what you have to offer (that people desperately need in these times) is far greater than your fear and your inexperience. 

* All teachers (and students for that matter!) ideally should continue to take lots of different classes in lots of different styles. I am learning so much about what resonates with me and my true gifts as I do this yoga project.

* Networking is super-important and we all need mentors and peers to walk with us on our path (aka networking with integrity).

* As Amy Ippolitti’s 90 Monkeys will attest – we all need to keep training, keep meeting other teachers, keep talking about our yoga with our fellow teachers, keep supporting others who join this path.

I love this quote (and really there are so very few who fall into this trap).

“A teacher who ceases to learn forfeits their right to teach” (Lucille Wood, Gita International Yoga, Melbourne)

So, it was refreshing after class to find out that the teachers at Cosmic Yoga share that philosophy of humility, that they are “new” too, they are open to learning more and they are open to giving all that they have for there community. Again, am reminded that this – what I am doing with this blog, is also yoga.

And for that one wonderful day the exchange was far greater than a mere coconut water and a bliss ball.

Bless.

* Oh, by the way, I didn’t try aerial yoga. Will save that for another day. But here are the details…..

http://cosmicyogastudio.com.au/timetable/

COSMIC YOGA STUDIO
1/137 – 139 Brebner Drive
West Lakes SA Australia 5021
(08) 8355 4452
http://www.cosmicyogastudio.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/cosmicyogastudio
namaste@cosmicyogastudio.com.au

 

#47 Wheel-y natural – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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You know when it feels amazing, when you’re you’re in the flow……..oh yeah…….

This happens to me with outdoors yoga.

It pares down your practice, simplifies your thoughts and intensifies the experiences. Stronger smells, more variable light, temperature and stimuli. So many more distractions in some ways – and yet seems simpler to quieten and slow down your thoughts.

It is “only natural” to begin an outdoors class feeling frustrated by obstacles. This day at Womad (see picture) with the lovely “Unlock Your Body Yoga” it was really hot. Super-needing-shade-or-else hot. We couldn’t find our spot.  That’s why there’s a photo – my husband gave up on the class and took photos instead. It was pretty crowded. The ground was uneven, grating noises like garbage trucks could be heard nearby. Oh, I could go on and on and on.

Yet battling the elements can help remind you that you are well and truly “in the moment”. It’s like nature is calling you to be present.

Here are some benefits to yoga outdoors 

* Uneven surfaces can build the smaller, secondary muscles around the joints. (Be sure to not over-exert since uneven surfaces can trigger tension in unexpected places.) 

* Outdoor yoga delivers a sense of space and freedom, one step removed from comparative influences like neighbourly mats, mirrors and fancy yoga outfits. 

* Outdoors can be humbling, especially when everyone is experiencing the same challenges of insects, damp ground, temperature, dirt or sweat. It is easier to laugh, to abandon striving personas, etc.

* It can ease people’s ability to breathe (as long as your air is clean in your outdoors space – pranayama is fresher than when cooped up in one space.)

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If you’re looking for a space, find a secluded, relatively quiet spot with a decent amount of flat, open space and few passersby.

Spend time meditating on the 5 senses – the near and far noises, – the smells, pleasant and unpleasant, yours, the ground around you, – what you see, often birds or clouds pop into view right at a crucial moment post-sivasana, – your skin, your sense of touch, what is hot, cold, uneven, where your body touches the ground, the breeze and so on.

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This day, for me, I found grace in the beautiful urdhva dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Wheel) pose. I often throw myself into this asana, hold my breath, force my muscles into unhappy places popping upwards to arch. Instead my arms felt like massively strong concrete foundations while my torso and abdomen rose like I was being held and lifted sky-wards by an invisible life-force. It felt so beautiful.

It is well demonstrated that there is great power in the restorative benefits of nature. It helps us improve our ability for self-reflection. It is simpler in nature to apply Svadhyaya – the ethical practice of self-reflection and enquiry. That was for sure. This pose, and all the rest – felt great !

With stronger ability for reflection that accompanies an outdoors practice, often you can find your sweet edge more readily. Find the wheel-y natural you.

 

This Yogic Life

This is our yogic life.

The photos are a round-up of our beautiful journey through the past decade or so and how yoga has woven a thread rich through us all.

Hindu ceremony, New Mexico camps, Quebec ashram, inversions, conversions, beaches and buddies.

Partners, puppies, smiles – and always outdoors !

Dancing, playing and always propping each other up. Sometimes blurry, always with love and good intentions.

Us. Our family and friends on this planet.

Love.

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#46 Mat mates – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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Last year on arrival in Adelaide our family had a lovely surprise, we found Adelaide has an outlet of our favourite yoga store Lululemon (the Canadian active wear retailer).

And even better we found out that they offer unlimited, twice-weekly FREE yoga classes…..what a lovely surprise, an unusual gift in modern retail behaviour, but so yogic.

This week, after several months break I went again. After a busy summer away it’s taken a while to get my regular yoga class habit back. One clear yearning & intention I’ve had is to find a kula (yoga community – see below) and this intention has seen me trekking from one side of Adelaide to another – with some great experiences, but as yet not finding a true place to land that’s right for me for the long term.

I took one of the local Grenville St Sunday morning sessions (the Lulu family offer twice-weekly classes) since I already knew a sense of community could be found here.

Hence the “mat mates”. Sigh. So lovely. My yoga family was there……!

I pulled up beside *Francis, someone I had practiced next to a couple of times last year, someone my daughter had teamed up with for partners yoga last winter. So kind, peaceful. I’d forgotten about her.

AND out-of-nowhere came a big hug from *Josie, a kind of “strategic team-builder” Lululemon has employed to help support and contribute to Adelaide’s yoga community. What a dynamo. Always offering incredible insight and so open to life.

How to feel like you’re home! I can’t speak highly enough for this location and the people found with in it. This is kula…..

When diverse people come together and celebrate yoga as a unifying thread – that is kula. Kula” (Koo-la) is a Sanskrit concept which effectively means community of the heart. A kula is joined by an invisible uniting, connecting bond where social norms, history and taboos are ignored and a focus on love, abundance and expression is the defining quality. 

This community at LL is definitely an intentional kula community. Now, a community is not defined by a space (although this huge heritage building, colored walls, herb tea and smiles certainly helps) – instead it is the people that compose it.

“You are the company that you keep, so keep good company”, says yoga philosopher Douglas Brooks.

I can guarantee anyone who comes to these classes will experience this positive feeling the joining of welcoming yogi companionship …. try it for yourself……

(*PS Yogi’s names have been changed for anonymity)

#48 Woah. Mad – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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How to describe Womad?

It was like an all-day x 3 day-long yoga class. Or a resort holiday. Combined with Christmas Day. Physical exhaustion mixed with bliss, mixed with the energy from thousands of others mixed with intimacy from the lazing around with your friends and family in shady trees with nothing to do (if you so choose).

Russell Chan’s Unlock Your Body yoga was like that too.

3 classes over 3 days. At times funny, frantic, soothing, slow, crazy. Pushing your boundaries then resting in acceptance. (And maybe just being outside contributed to them being such lovely classes too…….)

Woah, mad it was.

We’d never been to a music festival before (but that’s another story for another blog one day). The yoga is what drew us into the festival every morning at noon.

Under ancient boughs and clear skies with the mixed songs of dozens of types of birds, it was blissful right there. Drawing strength from the ground, our standing yoga asanas were energetic, strong and kind. Russell’s voice was perfectly-timed and humble. The sivasanas were tear-jerkers as we melted from the heat into the ground and let go of everything. I really loved his technique of scanning the body during relaxation and naming each part of the body as it is released. Mmmmm. A sure sign – my kids and husband joined in too.

What was most lovely was how people drifted in and out of the class – mostly in. In flowy skirts, without mats, with yoga newbies and piled up picnic baskets. There were some real tight bodies and some major “keeners” like us. All were welcome.

That’s the piece, the gem. 

Everyone is welcome to yoga. We all have unique geometries, like our fingerprints. There isn’t a yogi alive that can perfect all poses, all ways, all of the time. What makes us retreat in fear in our personalities is the same as what we retreat from in our bodies. I presume that’s what Russell means. When you unlock the parts of you that aren’t functioning optimally you unlock parts of your heart. And we all benefit. I can’t imagine why anyone would avoid yoga due to judging themselves as being too inflexible. 

If I had one wish it would be that more people could experience this wonderful event, in this wonderful Botanic Garden with this wonderful teacher.

Na-Ma-Ste……!

 

 

You can find Russell at Stomping Ground Studio

Stomping Grounds Studios (SGS), 9 Stepney St., Stepney, South Australia 5069  and you can

Contact them on info@stompinggroundstudios.com.au

 

 

# 52 Kundalini Kelley – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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What a homecoming.

It’s been about 2 years since I  attended a Kundalini yoga class ~ last time was back in Canada where we used to live. This was also my first formal class for 2014 and the first class of my new baby – The 52 Yoga Project.

The class was special. The intimate studio was very quiet, no traffic noise outside and had a high ceilinged, almost cave-like quality. The sense of one-ness wasn’t as strong with the students as I’ve experienced elsewhere (but Kundalini is quite new to Adelaide I’m told).

Kelley our teacher was so engaged, giving and confident in her teaching. I felt welcomed instantly and her instructions/demonstrations were really attentive and detailed, she gave a lot to her students…..

Once you find a style you love, it becomes very easy to overlook the quirks, stereotypes and individual nuances of a particular form. This type of yoga is no exception – students either adore or ridicule it. I am one of very few moderates, a pragmatic fan. There are things about it that frustrate me, but I am also slightly nuts about what it delivers to me. Here’s a summary about what to expect from the style……

The classic features of this style were all there – references to the founder, Yogi Bhajan, some very long and deeply meditative movements (long, slow pranayama breathing sets of 20 minutes duration !) juxtaposed against some wild breath-of-fire arm-numbing kriyas (set sequences). In addition, along came the sweet chants (the hook) by Snatum Kaur et. al. These always prove a treat, even when my mind argues with itself as I move through what feels like ridiculous-looking exercises. Sometimes Kundalini seems to put you into the craziest physical manoeuvres. And the terms, while correct, seem a little trite (the “ego-eradicator” exercise for example).  There are lots of rules in Kundalini and the sequences for a class are always as was set out by Mr Master Bhajan himself decades ago.

If you have never tried the Kundalini Yoga style, it’s OK to:

* Leave out the white dress. Many find the KY “uniform” a little too cult-like. Personally, I love it, I feel clean, summery and fit.

* Leave behind the need to understand the Ghurmuki language, the meaning behind the chants. Just enjoy the space the resonating voices take up inside your normally busy monkey minds!

* Stop rather than push through some of the more demanding arm raising kriyas. I find Kundalini a little light on alignment and anatomy, so pay close attention to spinal alignment during active movements. Resting is crucial. You can join back in at any time.

The benefits of this type of class are that they are quite the torso workout ! Your lung cavity, diaphragm are nourished and so your lung capacity feels greatly increased and you get a surge of mental vitality soon afterwards. And who doesn’t love to sing !?

Thank you Exhale Yoga for the opportunity to join in this space. While only a fledgling style in Australia, Kunalini has great relevance and Kelley’s success will only continue to grow in coming years. One request? I have been indulged by my last community, we always contributed snacks and yogi tea, etc. I guess I have been a little spoilt.

I tell you what, if this blog can encourage a few more students out, perhaps their hook can be an exquisite raw bliss ball treat, or small offering of golden milk. Just some small rewards to encourage this lovely, emerging community.

Sat Nam.

Kelley can be found at Exhale Yoga Studio. Her details are:

Kelley Watson King William Road Goodwood SA

Exhale Studio is a multi-discipline studio based in the Unley/Goodwood area, south of Adelaide City.

# 50 State of the Union – Adelaide’s 52 Yoga Project

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Surprise ! It’s a post about Pilates.

Actually, the real reason I went was cos’ it was an SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) class, and as you can see from the beach (Seacliff) we frequent it’s SUP heaven. Any excuse to get on a board. Crystal clear, abundant sea life and sand that goes on for miles…..

I was curious about the class cos’ I’ve never done Pilates before, and have never had a conversation with anyone I know about it ~ but it seems necessary for The 52 Yoga Project to include Pilates as we’re all part of the one family. Pilates though (to me) seems like the black sheep, the cousin no-one mentions. It’s quite possible yoga is like that in the Pilates world.

Rather than debate differences in a competitive frame, I’d like to highlight the similarities.  It’s not Pilates vs. Yoga. I’m looking for Union, not separation.

Liz, the instructor was vibrant. Healthy, funny and always looking to make the experience better, lots of guidance, very thorough explanation, diligence. Loved her straight away. She is obviously someone who has found her life’s work.

The class was energetic and the requirement to concentrate on the actions, the boards, the waves, the instructor and so on, meant that there was little room to wander mentally, for any mind chatter. So, it was like a meditation…..no different really in final effect than an active vinyasa class or Kundalini workout.

We laughed, looked after one another and drifted from the shore to the murky depths and back again several times. That connection with each other as a group and reacting to the external wind and waves around us really encouraged a strong sense of community.

In the modern fitness world there seems to be a misunderstanding about what each other does. Essentially, the principles are the same.

What do Yoga and Pilates both offer? 

* centreing (that is – going inward and finding calm) both in the mind and the body – in the core (with Pilates) and the heart centre (for Yoga) 

enhanced breathing practice and oxygenation

* control of muscles and limbs, spinal strength

precise anatomical movements to strengthen small muscles

* enhancing your capacity for concentration

* relaxation for both body and mind

I guess the idea I want to promote is that whatever unites both systems will help them both improve and be more widely embraced by all people. The assumption is that yoga is more gentle and pilates is more rigorous. However, knowing what I know about yoga, it is impossible to categorize yoga as such. I imagine in Pilates it is the same – there is a wide variety of classes that  require both gentle and hard working participants.

If you want to know more about Pilates and yoga fusion, read here. 

Essentially Liz gave us dynamic balancing poses, using the paddle board paddle in forward bends, doing similar movements to yoga like side plank and twists. I learnt some great core strengthening tips and a reaffirmation of the importance and beauty of combining the breath with the movements in a fluid fashion. The class was well-paced. I felt strong.

What was also brilliant was learning a few new SUP tips, like how to paddle in strong wind on your knees or seated with a Hiawatha-like paddling position.

Let me just say that the sivasana with lapping waves was exceptional and all of it was a great yogic experience. How could the beach be anything else?

lizgilhauspilates

You can reach Liz at;

Stomping Grounds Studio

9 Stepney St, Stepney SA 5069

0422 621 941

info@stompinggroundstudios.com.au

Tuesdays 10:30am-12:30pm & 3-5pm
Wednesdays 12-3pm
Thursdays 1pm, 2pm, 4pm & 5pm
Fridays 8am, 12pm & 1pm
Saturdays 8am

She is available for Private Lessons

Please call Liz on 0409 775 158 to make a booking.