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Yoga and our connection to nature

Those of you who have been practising yoga for a while will likely have come to realise that Yoga is more than just stretching.  

The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ translates to union and connection. 

Due to busy lifestyles and the demands of day to day life, many of us are disconnected from our bodies, from each other and from nature. 

We so easily get trapped inside our heads, worrying, stressing and planning for the future. We often forget to be present, to notice our breath, to listen to the rustling of the trees and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. 

By getting to know our bodies and connecting to our breath in our practice, we start to rebuild this connection with our bodies and, ultimately, our deep connection to each other and the world around us.



Nature in the Yogic Tradition

Many Yogic texts show an honouring of nature. We can see this, for example, through the many postures named after animals (crow, cobra) and nature being represented through the Hindu gods (Agni – The God of fire, Vayu the God of Wind). 

Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas, or ethical guidelines, within many systems of Yoga. Ahimsa translates to non harming or non-violence and it is at the heart of practising yoga, both on and off the mat. When we act with ‘Ahimsa’ in mind, this means not causing harm to others, ourselves, or nature. Ahimsa shows a deep honouring of our planet and all those that inhabit it, seeing animals as equals and plants and trees full of prana or life force. 

When teaching my own classes, I often refer to nature ‘as our greatest teacher’. For example, when exploring feeling grounded, we look to the humble tree; the wind may shake the branches but, in most cases, the trunk holds. The tree has strong roots in order to flourish above.

Yoga, nature and connection 

I imagine we’ve all experienced that profound feeling of calm, a sense of belonging and comfort that stepping away from our busy lives and being out in nature can bring. Nature is in our nature! We are nature and this is why we feel a particular resonance with it, a sense of being home. 

Before all the distractions of modern life, we lived in connection with nature. We slept when the sun went down, spent most of our days outside and drank from the streams. Nature compliments our Yoga practice as it’s the place we were originally us; our true selves, us as human beings before all the distractions and demands of modern life drew us further and further away. 



 Nature under threat 

After teaching my Yoga classes, my favourite thing to do is to take a stroll in the local Weekly Hall Woods and meadows. There’s something about the trees, sky and fresh air that instantly makes me feel calm and encourages me to get out of my head. I love the peace and gratitude I experience as I move my body in nature. I’ve even had the opportunity to teach classes outside that overlook the beautiful woodland and they have felt truly special. 

I felt inspired to write this as this area of nature that provides joy to many is at threat. There are plans in place that look to take down Weekly Hall wood and replace it with more warehouses/distribution centres. The application, if approved, will result in the deforestation and industrialisation of an area that provides peace and connection to so many people, from runners and dog walkers to those looking for a slice of peace out from their busy day.

These strange times over the past few months have highlighted the need for access to open space and the natural environment and we need this connection to ourselves, each other and nature more now than ever. Is taking down entire woodland practising ahimsa? Is it honouring our deeply rooted connection to nature? 

What can you do to support? 

You can head over to https://saveweekleyhallwood.com/what-can-i-do/ to sign their petition to object to the planning application or type ‘saveweekleyhallwood’ on social media for more information and more ways to get involved. 

Reflections 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the connection between yoga and nature for you. Do you ever practice outside? Have you enjoyed a walk round Weekly Hall Wood after class? Do you have a favourite animal or nature themed pose? 

Online Yoga Brunch

When: Sunday 19th July
Time: 10am – 12pm
Where: In the comfort of your own home
Cost: £20 per person

We can’t get to a Yoga studio right now, so I’ve decided to bring the Yoga Brunch into your home!

The session will begin with a 90 minute (ish!) Yoga, breathwork, and meditation practice. We will then all enjoy a tasty brunch, provided by the wonderful ‘Boxxed’, a small business based in Northampton who offer a range of grazing boxes, with lots of plant-based options. You can choose to eat this on your own after the class, or whilst chatting and catching up over zoom!

You have a choice of brunch this time!

1. Vegan Brunch Box: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, yoghurt and granola pot, bagel with cream cheese and banana bread with peanut butter

2. Vegan Picnic Box: Fresh fruit, veg sticks, salsa pot, mini baguette, a slice of cake, mini sausage rolls and crisps

Let me know which option you would like when you order / when you send me your address details.

Once you’ve ordered your ticket, I will be in touch for your address. Food will then be delivered/picked up on Saturday afternoon / early evening (18th July) ready to be enjoyed on Sunday.

**Please note – Deliveries within Northamptonshire only as I will be delivering the food myself. If you would like to order from further away then get in touch to see if we can meet halfway / at a suitable location etc.

If you’d like to take part in the Yoga, but not the brunch, that is all good! You can attend the Yoga class for £10. Again get in touch and I will send you details of how to pay.

Just If you have any food allergies, then please do let me know when you book so I can pass the information on to Boxxed.

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Summer Solstice Reflections 2019

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. It is often seen as a doorway into the second part of the year and into the Summer. Summer is said to be a time of renewed energy and optimism – a time to celebrate what you have done over the last 6 months and to look ahead at what you would like to achieve in the next half of the year. 

In my Summer Solstice themed classes, I asked my Yogis to reflect on 3 questions before we began our practice and, like last year, I thought I would share some of my reflections in this blog. 

What are you grateful for so far this year? 

  • I am so grateful for all the wonderful people in my life. There are too many to mention, but this beautiful bunch of people includes my Husband, close family (especially my gorgeous niece Poppy), my Yoga family,  those colleagues that have supported me through some low moments at work, my close friends…I just love you all. There’s perhaps only one thing more precious and important than time and that’s who we spend it with.

  • This links to the above, but I am grateful for everyone who has helped me on my Yoga journey so far – your support has been so appreciated and so needed. 
  • I am so grateful that my wonderful husband’s health is improving. In March this year, they found a Blood Clot in his lung and it’s been a difficult few months which took its toll on his mental health (and mine to be honest). He is in a much better mental and physical space now which I am so very grateful for.  I am eternally grateful for my husband and his support, hugs, and encouragement in all I do. 
  • My Tuesday mornings at home. Since having some difficult times at work, I have been allowed to go into work a little later on Tuesday mornings. I can’t describe what a positive impact this has had. Just to have a little time to recover from a late night of teaching on Monday and to have a couple of hours to me to relax and prepare for the week has been life-changing. I am grateful to the member of staff that allowed this to happen. 

What in your life needs nurturing right now? 

  • My diet. I realised this weekend that due to teaching all day and most evening, my diet has started to suffer. There often isn’t time to eat between school and Yoga classes, so I find myself eating Miso Noodle pots or just grabbing some fruit between classes. I very rarely cook at home anymore and when the weekends roll around, I find I am eating out much more often and I am craving lots more cake / dessert / sugary treats. I do meal prep on a Sunday to ensure I have 1 home-cooked meal each weekday so that’s a positive. However, I am also starting to experience a lot more guilt around what I am eating, which really isn’t healthy. 
  • My ability to stay present. When I am teaching Yoga classes I am fully in the moment – immersed in my students and my teaching. However, outside of this, I often find it very difficult to stay present. I am always planning ahead – thinking about what I need to get ready for the next day, what classes I have coming up, what my to-do list is, etc – this often leads to me becoming overwhelmed and means I am not experiencing the moment as it is. 
  • My sleep – I have been listening to a lot of podcasts that talk about the importance of getting your 8+ hours sleep – I usually manage 6-7 hours and I worry about what impact this is having on my well-being. 
  • For the next 3 weeks and 3 days, I will need to nurture myself as my 10 Year school teaching career comes to an end. Whilst I know this is the right decision for me at this stage, it’s not been an easy journey – I plan to write a post about this once I leave. At the moment, it’s so strange hearing everyone talk about plans for the next year, people saying to me things like “This is your last parents evening!” etc. Whilst I am excited about moving on, it’s also so sad and I am experiencing really mixed feelings at the moment! 

What are you excited about? What are you looking forward to? 

  • I am excited (and so so nervous) about starting my Yoga business full time in just over 3 weeks! I have so many questions, so many worries, but I am trusting that things will all fall into place with time.
  • I am looking forward to (hopefully) having a little more time to slow down a little – I am excited about developing new routines with my exercise/ Yoga / food / Meditation etc. and maybe even having time to read more, go on more walks, etc
  • I am hoping to dedicate some time to set up my own Yoga retreats and to continue to hold Yoga events on top of my regular classes 
  • I am excited about going on holiday to Iceland with my hubby in September 
  • I am looking forward to spending more time with friends and family 
  • I am looking forward to (hopefully) passing my Exercise to Music course and using that to teach a range of classes and to explore further courses to develop my knowledge and skills in this area (perhaps resistance training) 

Take some time to acknowledge how far you have come this year. Notice the achievements you have made, and any lessons learned. What do you want the next 3 months to bring you?

I would love to hear your answers to one or all of the questions above!  

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The life of a part-time Yoga teacher: Month 3

My Sunday morning Yogis completed yet another 6 week block of Yoga classes last week! It has been wonderful seeing some of the ‘regulars’ develop their practice, as well as welcoming some new Yogis. Despite the snow, and freezing cold starts in the dance studio, these wonderful ladies join me each Sunday morning to move their bodies and calm their minds.

I was truly humbled at the end of our last class, when one wonderful Yogi baked the class vegan friendly blackcurrant crumble bars and lemon slices! The crumbles were delicious! Another lovely yogi bought me some wonderful beauty gifts to say thanks for introducing her to Yoga. Such kind, thoughtful offerings. I am truly grateful for our Sunday mornings together

I love my Friday nights at the moment – teaching a sweaty, power Yoga based class at the gym, singing my heart out in my car as I rush back to my local Yoga class afterwards, giggling along and relaxing with them and then coming home for some well earned food and a nice hot bath! It was wonderful to see some new Friday Yogis come along on Good Friday – it would be great to see this class’s numbers grow.

I am feeling very inspired about my Yoga teaching right now. I had the privilege of attending a wonderful Yoga retreat last Friday, which involved 3 chakra themed Yoga classes, sleeping in a Yurt, eating delicious vegan food, rainy walks and chats in a hot tub, all alongside 10 wonderful ladies. This really has inspired me to start looking into setting up some Yoga events / retreats of my own – especially as I love planning parties and bringing people together! If anyone has any ideas / suggestions then do let me know!

I spent the whole of Good Friday planning lots of new Yoga sequences, meditations, breathing activities and class themes for my upcoming classes. I can’t wait to share these with my yogis! I have had to get a little more organised with my class planning as, due to teaching 5 classes a week, I was starting to forget which sequences I had done with which students! I have now set up a planner that logs what sequences I teach and when, kind of like my school lesson planner, so I can keep on top of everything!

I think the true highlight of this month had to be the kind, thoughtful words one of my Yogis left as a review on my Facebook page. How wonderful of her to take the time to share her thoughts. I am so glad that Yoga is having such a positive effect on her well-being. What a wonderful journey this is.

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The life of a part-time Yoga teacher: Month 1

After some initial ‘market research’ in December (ie lots of posts on local Facebook community pages!) I decided there was enough interest to set up my first local class – a ‘6 week Yoga for beginners course’. I found a wonderful local dance studio to hold the classes in and the course booked up pretty fast. I am 4 weeks into the course and am loving seeing the progress my 15 students are making each week – it’s a pleasure spending my Sunday mornings with them.

I used the money gained from my beginners course to purchase my own set of Yoga mats and Yoga blocks. I got my equipment from yogamatters.com as they offer an excellent bulk buy discount and their sticky mats come in a great range of colours!  Buying the equipment was the easy bit… working out where to store everything has been fun (bye bye boot space in my tiny car!). It turns out yoga mats are heavy, and I have come to be known as the ‘trolley lady’ in school as I wheel my mats and blocks from one classroom to another between the staff / student classes I teach at the secondary school where I work.

It has been wonderful providing the stressed out, exhausted staff at school with an hour a week where they can forget the troubles of the day and just focus on their body, mind and breath. Yoga has been so powerful for helping me manage my own stresses as a Secondary School teacher / Head of Year, so it’s great to be able to pass this on to other staff. One lovely lady said to me “After our first session, I just went home and cried – I felt so emotional”.

I am also working with a fab group of Year 10 and 11 students who are busy preparing for mock exams. Sessions with them are great fun with lots of giggles – they particularly love the ‘bit at the end where we get to lie down and do nothing’. At the end of one class, a Year 11 stayed behind and said “thanks so much Miss, I haven’t felt this relaxed in ages”.

I must admit that this month wouldn’t have been so productive without the help of my wonderful husband. He has been so supportive and has helped me with all the ‘marketing’ aspects of my yoga business, such as redesigning my Facebook page to match the wonderful flyers, website and business cards that he designed for me. He’s also helping me keep track of my finances via a very detailed spreadsheet. What a legend!

The highlight of this month had to be leading an assembly on mindfulness, in which I lead a 10 minute meditation with 600 Year 9 and 10 students and their tutors. It was nice to start the school day with a moment of calm.

January has been a busy and super enjoyable month and I can’t wait to see what adventures next month brings!