Blog - Manchester Yoga Central

Yoga am I doing it right?

Yoga am I doing it right?

By Nikki Hambrook

When we read or hear of yoga many say myself included that yoga is a great way to de stress, release tension and quiet the mind. These statements are true. However for those of you starting yoga are you finding it hard to understand how putting your body into different and unusual positions can really provide so much benefit for the mind?

As I write this article I can remember so clearly the days when I too could not see the link. However I have now been practicing for over ten years and teaching for seven so many more layers of the practice begin to absorb into my being providing me with an understanding to benefit from yoga in more levels than just the physical. I remember in the beginning taking a class and a certain relationship problem I was going through went round and round in my head shouting lounder as I slowed down my pace of mind for a contemplative practice. I also had classes where I solely became focussed on achieving certain postures which once achieved I wondered what the point was. Am I wasting my time?

The thing with sharing yoga these days is my early experiences of not getting the practice is equally as important to my teaching as is understanding the practice. I can fully relate to my students feelings of busy minds and impatience felt when holding a simple side stretch for over a minute.

Here are a few problems that may arise that may stop you from pursuing yoga as a path for spiritual growth and self evolution. If you are new to yoga advance awareness of these obstacles gives you the gift of knowing what may stand in your way. Overcoming the obstruction is part of the whole process.

1. I can’t calm my busy mind to get the best out of the class practice.

If the mind is busy accept it as it is. The nature of the mind means it will never be completely quiet but it may be for just a few moments. If w get impatient with our busy mind then we send more attention to it. The thoughts seem louder and more persistant. To combat this redirect your focus and attention to your breath and the affect through sensation the posture is giving your physical form.

2. I can’t get into the positions that others achieve in class.

The challenge for our growth is to fully accept things as they are in each moment. Anxiously trying to push yourself further has the opposite of the desired affect. Anxiety naturally tenses the body as a protection mechanism, preventing further movement. If you have tight hamstrings or limitations in the hips then learning to accept this will help us energetically relax which in turn helps us to stretch deeper and ultimately achieve the required position.

If you firstly accept yourself just as you are then change can occur, this applies on and off the mat.

3. I feel uncomfortable in the yoga postures.

Although yoga generates lots of blissful feelings and is a real relief once you have moved the bodies tension, to actually move the tension you need to bring it up to the surface. Therefore in some of the yoga postures you may feel the tension heighten, as long as you are not pushing yourself too far this is normal.

Try to feel that by bringing tension to the surface you are enabling it to clear away so you can be free from it.

4. I feel bored when doing yoga.

We have so much stimulation in our modern day world with phones, emails and constant activity that to slow down our usual pace and remove the stimulation we can sometimes feel impatient. It is only by removing these stimuli and slowing down our breath and our movement that we can move towards the healing benefits of yoga. Those of us that lead active and busy lives are in a constant heightened adrenal state and will undoubtedly feel bored in the yoga setting by pushing through the boredom and continuing with their practice the blood which is normaly rushing to their extremities through the stress response reverses and goes to the nourishment of the deeper organs of the body. Eliminating the affect of stress leads to deeper feelings of prolonged contentment. A place where boredom is naturally eliminated.

5. Sometimes after yoga I can feel worse mentally or physically.

On a physical level yoga works to realign the posture. Think of the analogy of correcting the position of teeth with a brace it is uncomfortable for a while but eventually everything is aligned as it should be. The discomfort of making space in the body for alignment is well worth enduring as the benefits give long term comfort, wellbeing, greater energy levels and mobility and better health into old age.

On a mental level when we quiet down the chatter of everyday thought we make space for deep rooted emotional issues to surface. These need to come up for the chance for them to be cleared as they have an affect on our body which manifests in our posture. By giving these feelings space we are initially going to feel worse but we have to give them space to allow them to clear.

6. I don’t have the time to do yoga.

By doing yoga we train to be in the moment and address each task with our full attention. How many times do we find ourselves rushing around each day attempting to multitask trying to get everything done only to find we haven’t achieved much. The on the mat training to be fully present in each moment teaches you to be more efficient off the mat when tackling the days tasks. Leaving you more room for yoga.

Nikki teaches at Manchester Yoga central every Monday evening for gentle yoga at 545pm and Hatha Yoga at 7pm both classes are drop in.

Yoga for the Settled mind by Jeanine Goh

Yoga for the settled mind

“Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.” ~ Patanjali

We all have an idea of what the mind is. It’s that thing in our heads that makes lots of thoughts. Lots of thoughts that whizz around all day, whisking us away on a merry (or often not so merry) dance. Driving us crazy, wearing us out, doing our heads in, making our brows furrow, making our breath shallow…..and sometimes we just want them to stop. Sometimes we want some of those 50,000 daily thoughts to just leave us alone. Sure, we need to think things through, to make plans, basically to do anything cognitive, but my goodness me, if we could weigh the amount of un-necessary, incessant thoughts we have, we might start to see why we can’t see clearly sometimes, why we feel foggy or why we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders.

It’s a crazy world, with theses billions of crazy minds creating these thousands of crazy thoughts. It’s no wonder that even as a collective we can’t hear anymore, we’ve lost our way. But before we take on the world, or even our day, we have a very lovely self to look after and that well-deserved peace in our own mind to discover. Today, now, right this moment, we can take a stand, we can step into our power and vow to recognise our mind as a tremendous and powerful tool rather than the ‘drunken monkey’ or the ‘wild roaming tiger’ that led us astray on that merry dance.

In the teaching of yoga, more often than not, people arrive hoping to slow their minds and thoughts down. They desperately want some peace and some space. ‘Aargh if only we had more time’, they all call in unison. And, before we even begin, I let them into a simple secret. We actually have a massive chunk of time and energy that we are wasting and that is absolutely exhausting…..yes, it is those 48,000 pesky, un-necessary thoughts and ruminations confusing us and weighing us down.

Moreover, a huge seismic shift occurs from the very simple realisation that WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS. So, please do not sell yourself short in life. Please don’t be constantly tricked by the allure of that latest thought trying to tempt you with exciting fantasies of the future, or those pulling you into obsessing about the past, those putting you down or telling you that you can’t…….Instead, step into your power and recognise that we are not that ‘drunken monkey’, we are not that ‘wild roaming tiger’, we are not those fields of energy cycles that show up in the brain scans. We are much, much more than that. We are much more powerful than that, we are much more beautiful than that.

Thankfully, this profound piece of what should be basic self-knowledge is becoming more well-known with the popularity of meditation, yoga, eastern philosophy and mindfulness, but it still surprises me when I speak to students and they really think they are their thoughts. One student said to me once ‘but what am I, if I am not my thoughts?’ They were even a little scared to let go of the idea that they were their thoughts. They were scared of what lay beneath the thoughts, they were scared of that entity, that space that thoughts arise in. With a gentle hug to soften their fears, I pointed out that the space, that entity that lies beneath their thoughts is both, amazing and beautiful. And, that space, that they are scared of, is actually themselves.

Dr Jeannine Goh is a psychologist, writer and dedicated yoga teacher. She runs the Thursday ‘Yoga for the Mind’ class (8-9pm) at Yoga Central. In the class she has developed breath-led, slow-flowing moon salutation sequences to allow you to glimpse and gain access to that space that lies beneath the busy mind whilst strengthening and gently stretching your body. You can also subscribe to her forthcoming yoga blog at http://www.awespace.org/blog and look out for the Yoga for the mind Facebook page.Yoga 

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5 reasons Mysore is worth getting out of bed for.

 

The first time I went to a Mysore class I thought I’d try it out just once and see what the fuss was about (I wasn’t really up for the seemingly impractical idea of getting up at 4.30am regularly). However that was the tipping point at which I descended down into the Ashtanga rabbit hole, from then on I went to every Mysore week that I could, regardless of what time I had to get up. Before I knew it I was traveling across the world to the Mysore rooms of some top international teachers and now I’m teaching it myself.

For me it really is ‘where it’s at’ when it comes to developing the yoga practice both inside and out. Here’s a few reasons why, from my perspective as both a teacher and a student…

1. It’s like private 1-2-1 class…

Each student in the Mysore room works through the different series of the Ashtanga system at their own pace (starting with Primary), new postures are given if/when they’re appropriate for the individual. This individualised approach means students can progress in their own time and be challenged in ways that’s right for them.

As a teacher this means that I can work with each student on a much closer level than in a normal led class. Not every cue or posture in a led class is suitable for every student in the room, Mysore style gives me the freedom to spend more time with a student whether that’s giving them tailored instructions or hands on adjustments.

2. Move to the rhythm of your own breath…

We all have a different rhythm when it comes to breathing and moving and this in itself will vary during our yoga practice depending upon which posture we’re in and how we’re feeling that day. During self-practice days students will move through postures at their own pace and get more time to explore postures or parts of the vinyasa that they find challenging. Building a relationship with our own breathing patterns helps us to notice patterns in other (connected) areas such as the nervous system, muscular system and the mind – when we’re aware of the steady and fluid rhythm of our own breath we’re more likely to notice when it becomes interrupted and explore why.

The sound in the Mysore room mainly consists of ujjayi breathing – layers of breath contributed to via individual students, each with a different volume, rhythm and quality. It’s quite a beautiful thing to listen to. As the teacher doesn’t verbally lead the whole class they can devote more attention to listening to a students breath and feeling the breath move through their body – this provides invaluable sensory feedback on how a student is doing right there in that moment. (Other sounds include the odd verbal instruction, shuffle, grunt, thud, expletive, giggle and yes, the occasional fart – and that’s just the teachers.)

During the Friday led primary class, students follow the rhythm of the teacher’s count as opposed to that of their own self-practice. It’s an opportunity for students to revise the correct vinyasa count and there’s no faffing time – so we learn to be comfortable with the expression of a posture that were in at that moment, even if we don’t have time to bind in Mari C/D. As students, this continues to exercise our awareness as we must listen attentively and resist the temptation to fall into the groove of our normal rhythm by either jumping ahead or slowing down unnecessarily.

3. Space to listen…

Students don’t follow verbal instructions for the self-practice classes, they learn a sequence of postures one by one. Once the sequence has been committed to memory there is more space for them to focus their awareness internally – the practice becomes a movement meditation and this is where the magic really happens!

For a teacher, having space to watch students practice, read their bodies, their breath and get a sense of the subtle energies at play is really important and so much easier to do in a Mysore style setting than a led-class. Mysore style gives students space to be themselves and take ownership of their practice while it also gives the teacher space to get to know them.

4. Mysore brings people together…

Self-practicing at home is great and really builds self discipline but there’s nothing quite like the energy of practicing in a group and getting input from a teacher. The person to the right of you may look like they’re in Cirque du Soleil and the one to the left may be working towards touching their toes. Even though the stuff that happens on the mat and the internal experience is unique to the individual, being in that room together at 6am, breathing and moving, creates a fantastic sense sense of unity. You may never have spoken to half of the people in the Mysore class but we don’t always need to talk to feel connected to the people we’re around.

During the Friday led primary class students are moving and breathing to the same rhythm which is unifying within itself. They all start and finish at the same time and chant the opening and closing chants as a group. There’s a real potency in the sound of those group chants and contributing to the closing mantra at the end of a Mysore style practice week can leave you with a tingle!

5. Early mornings are great!

Yes, you did read that correctly… early mornings are great! There’s a host of benefits to practicing in the morning – often the mind is quieter, the practice sets us up (physically and mentally) for the day and you’ve done your practice so you can walk around feeling smug! There are also the added bonuses of travelling on quiet roads, spotting foxes and seeing the sunrise.

Getting up early can be like approaching a challenging posture – try not to get ‘the fear’ when it’s coming up and take it as it comes (have confidence that at least one of your three alarms will go off and go to sleep), be prepared (the body is prepared for a posture by the ones that precede it so pack your bag the night before!) once you’re in it its not as ‘bad’ as you thought it would be and over time you might like it.

Attending early morning Mysore style classes requires a fair amount of effort, from both students and teachers but the return on investment is invaluable. Cultivating the dedication and self-discipline to get up in the morning is all part of the practice and it is definitely worth getting out of bed for.

By Marie Harris

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YOGA AND REIKI: FLOATING ON A DREAM CLOUD

YOGA AND REIKI: FLOATING ON A DREAM CLOUD

Thank you to Lucy from Led by Lucy for this amazing review!

www.ledbylucy.com

 

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To celebrate International Day of Yoga my Mum and I had a day of relaxation, treatments and yoga at Victoria Warehouse’s Holistic Central.  My mind and body have recently been craving some Zen and so this retreat was welcomed with open arms.

I started to feel more peaceful and chilled as soon as I arrived. The décor is rustic with exposed brickwork, wooden furniture and huge Indian cushions. The spa room smells like lemongrass and jasmine and the yoga studio is decorated with Cambodian wooden carvings and statues. The one pictured here is Dakini, the Goddess of Wisdom, she represents freedom, transcends worldly desires and is unrestrained by human cravings.

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I had never tried Reiki before but I love experiencing new things and so I chose this for one of my treatments.It is difficult to articulate how it felt or what happened but it was very powerful and kind of overwhelming. I have actually booked in for another slot with Katey Roberts the resident Reiki healer because I was so bowled over by the experience and want to do more.

Every experience on the day felt authentic to the ancient, spiritual roots of yoga and holistic therapies. There are regular yoga classes which are open to the public along with sound healing, chakra dance and shamanic journeying. I will definitely be going back to try out some more classes.  There is actually a hotel on site and I am seriously wondering whether they take permanent residents.

The day was organised by Ocean Finance to promote stress free finance. Thank you so much for inviting me. It was wonderful. I drifted home feeling like I was floating on a dream cloud.

Namaste

Become a Thai massage practitioner

The self-healing power of becoming a Thai Yoga Massage therapist

By Katrin Heuser

Working as a Thai Yoga Massage therapist, you often need to explain what you actually do. So that’s a good place to start before talking about the transformational journey it can be.

Thai Yoga Massage is a healing art that comes from an ancient Buddhist tradition. It’s a unique combination of yoga, acupressure, meditation, physiotherapy and energy work – a holistic therapy form with the aim to restore the natural energy balance in body and mind. Often called the Sacred Dance, Thai Yoga Massage is an act of loving kindness and meditation in movement between two people.

For the receiver, no doubt, this is a wonderful experience. So what makes it so special for the therapist? When I first started my training to become a Thai Massage therapist, I had no idea it would become such a big part of my life. I had just qualified as a yoga teacher and wanted to add another string to my bow. I chose Thai Massage mainly because of its clever body mechanics. I have scoliosis and didn’t want to work at a massage table. In Thai Massage you work on the floor, always aligned over the receiver, using your own body weight, coming from your centre. Seemed like the perfect option for me!

Halfway through my training, I felt a shift. I suddenly felt a depth in the connection through the power of touch that is hard to describe. It comes from being perfectly present and requires being at peace with yourself and the receiver at that moment. However you normally identify yourself needs to fall away, so you can connect with the receiver without an agenda. It’s not about wanting to fix the person, but ‘simply’ about giving them the space to be and to feel safe. Then the healing can take place.

Of course, we move the physical body, dig into muscles, move joints, release tension, work on fascia, revitalise organs, calm the nervous system, the list goes on. But the difference is in the way with touch, with presence, attention and clear intention. This quality comes from the same place as the quiet we find in meditation.

I prefer to call Thai Yoga Massage a practice, rather than therapy. There are always two people on the mat exchanging trust, giving into the present moment, receiving a deep connection from the heart. As much as you give, you receive back in loving kindness. It is like an echo.

Through this practice, I have found my own axis from where I live. I have found glimpses of unconditional joy and a connection to my self that is not clouded so much through misconception and attachment to the material any more. There is still a long way to go, but the unexpected directions this has already taken me are extraordinary. I now train people in Thai Yoga Massage and feel so privileged and grateful that I am able to share this gift.

Next practitioner training course starting 11 September 2015

www.muditathaiyoga.com

We are at the Om Yoga show

We are so happy to be attending the Om Yoga Show in Manchester and Nikki will be demonstrating one of the classes at the weekend. We will be on stand G8 and would love you to come and say hello!

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At the show we want to spread the message about our beautiful yoga studio set within a grand warehouse retreat. Known for a feeling of sanctuary within the Salford Quays area. Where we offer workshops on meditation, sound healing and more!

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And we want to give a shout out for our NEW holistic arm and therapists who provide some wonderful treatments such as, sports massage, EFT, Reiki, reflexology, shiatsu and energy alchemy. All our therapists have 10+ years experience.

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We also want to present our studio as a hire opportunity for workshops and events in Manchester.

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We hope you will help us spread the word and the love x