Beautiful Yoga Retreat was a Hit

Retreat in the Blue Mountains

Our first-ever yoga retreat finally took place in November 2021 after a yearlong, pandemic-caused delay. We retreated to the Blue Mountains and let our senses, bodies and minds be inspired by yoga, great company and delicious food.

We met our charming hosts Jeff and Andrew on Friday afternoon. You could tell by their warm welcome that this would be a great place to relax and practise yoga in a beautiful lush setting. Jeff and Andrew build an an eco-friendly refuge in beautiful bush gardens. It has solar power and uses rain water only. The property is surrounded by trees and mountains. There is a very special vibe which you feel immediately when you set foot in the amazing gardens.

The Shala

The retreat has a shala which overlooks the mountains. We could practice with the window open and the gentle mountain breeze tickled our senses. Our yoga sessions were guided by Franziska. There were asanas, pranayama, and restorative sessions schedule throughout the days.

We were spoiled with luscious vegetarian food which our hosts prepared from the freshest ingredients. Every meal was a highlight not only because of the food but also the pleasant company that this group provided.

I absolutely loved it.  You did an amazing job putting it together and running the sessions.  And after so many years of knowing you as my yoga instructor,  it was really nice to relax with you and get to know you better.  And the same for all the people I have been doing yoga with for so many years.  The schedule of yoga sessions was perfect in that I like the mix of asana’s, pranayama, and restorative sessions.  There was a good balance of yoga practice and time to relax.  The retreat accommodation was great and the food was wonderful

Ling C.
View from the shala

Back in the Studio for Yoga!

This feels a bit like deja vu! In July 2020 we were already celebrating that lockdown was over and we could go back to the studio. But then, the Delta strain of COVID hit us in Australia as well. It was inspiring to see how many people rushed to get their vaccinations once they became available. Hopefully, with almost all Australians now being double-vaccinated, we can leave lockdowns behind for good!

Backbend artistique … and outdoors!

I was again humbled and inspired by the great support you have demonstrated and more importantly, how many of you cannot live without their regular dose of yoga! Conducting yoga classes via Zoom has almost become ‘normal’. Thank you all so much! However, nothing beats working together in person in our beautiful studio with our Yoga Wall.

From 12 October, we will be transitioning back to yoga in the studio. The October to December term is a short one with only 8 weeks. Hence, we have made available an 8-class pass for this term. We have also updated the Schedule of Classes, so you can see which classes are on and when.

Finally, as of now, our Yoga Retreat will go ahead! I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to spending some restful days with you in the Blue Mountains where we can fully enjoy our yoga practice.

I am wishing us all a safe practice!

Term 3 in the Studio Again!

The head is the seat of intelligence.The heart is the seat of emotion.

B.K.S. Iyengar

We have come a long way since the scary days of March 2020 when nobody could tell how the whole COVID situation would develop. Fortunately, Australia did better than most countries and we are lucky to be able to think about returning to some form of (new) normality.  
Four weeks ago we started to move softly forward from online to studio classes and I have seen that most of you have been eager to come back to studio classes. 
I have also heard from those of you who do not feel comfortable practicing at the studio due COVID-19 currently. I want to let you know that I understand. Everybody needs to decide for themselves how they manage this new risk in all our lives. 
So, looking at Mr. Iyengar’s words above, let’s use our intelligence and our emotion to be guided and find the decision that is right for us individually. For me, it’s the balance of wanting to continue to guide you in your development of your yoga practice on the one hand and the fear of being in contact with so many people on the other. 
I am grateful for the mindfulness of all students, who are helping me cleaning the chairs and blocks after each class and staying away from classes when not feeling well. Some have even been tested when showing symptoms of a cold and let me know the results. If we all continue this path of self care and looking out for others I believe we can proceed with studio classes.  
On the positive, I am very proud of the beginners from the Tuesday class who have been keen to take it up again despite not having tasted the “nectar of a regular yoga practice” yet. Well done!

Now, we are ready to take the next step and start with our shorter Term 3 over 8 weeks. To reduce the risk in our classes the number of students is still limited to 10. For that purpose please book via my website for Term 3 to reserve your place. During  checkout you will see a text box for additional notes. Please, write your preferred session in this box or let me know by email which class you would like to attend.
If there is a high demand for one class and the number of students will be over 10, I will offer an additional class on Monday at 7.00 pm. First, let us see how the bookings will proceed. 

If you have to attend another than your reserved class for any reason, please contact me and I will advise. 

I am wishing us all a safe practice!

Sequences for Home Practice

Here are a few more sequences that you can do while at home.

The Foundation sequence is as the name suggests a beginner’s sequence. It was created by Geeta S. Iyengar, Mr. Iyengar’s daughter. (Thanks to Ballarat Iyengar Yoga and Balmain Iyengar Yoga for sharing). This sequence is also useful to get back into yoga after a time of absence.

(Click on the image to see the full version)

The menstruation sequence will help you to adjust your yoga practice and find some calm during that time of the month (source: Marrickville Yoga Studio).

(Click on the image to see the full version)

The restorative sequence (credit Bobby Clennel) is something you can do as often as you like! A stress reliever and some time to look after yourself during a time when we are all looking after other people most of the day.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

You can find more sequences for practicing at home here.

Yoga in times of COVID-19

Since making the difficult decision to temporarily close studio classes, I have been truly touched by your lovely emails, well wishes and encouragement to offer you an option for a home yoga practice. I would like to sincerely thank all of you for your kindness and positivity. 

Adaptation is the skill to compromise, the will to change, and the opportunity to evolve.

 Theordore W. Higgingsworth

The above quote pretty well summarizes how many of us feel at the moment. I am also adapting to new options and ways to support you in your yoga practice. 

I am currently taking a crash course on how to use online media to conduct effective yoga classes. I plan to offer some (free) trial sessions in the near future to see whether we can make this work.

If you would like to be part of the free Yoga Class Streaming experience (or should I say experiment?), please register here.

If it works, I plan to charge a small fee for those virtual classes in the future. 

What do you need? 

Your yoga props, a computer, laptop, phone or IPad to participate in the webconference. 
You can order props by clicking here (Iyogaprops) or here (EMP Industries) and bolsters by clicking here (Stretch Now).

Why do I practice Yoga?

Have you ever asked yourself “Why do I practice yoga?”

Of course, the goal is not to tie a knot with you limbs, even though some people think that this is what yoga is all about!

I am so grateful for my ‘discipline’ to be practicing every day. Disciplined practice is said to be a path to freedom. But discipline without the permission to play can lead to discipline devoid of delight. The practice can lose its vitality, its joy, its juice. The practice can become mechanical and we can lose the ability to wonder, and the ability to try things differently. Discipline combined with delight or a ‘way of play’ is truly liberating because we are free to explore, to learn, to grow, to evolve. We are free to listen and respond to what is emerging from within- even if it does not conform to what we have been trained to expect. We make space for insight, and even delight – genuine delight.
Why am I grateful for practicing yoga? It is as fundamental for me now as those other daily practices. In fact, I ‘thirst’ for yoga when I am busy and it gets reduced. I do not practice yoga because I am disciplined. I practice yoga because I have to. Without it I would be distracted by pain from my scoliosis. I would not be able to enjoy my life and what I love. 

Why do you practice yoga? What helps you to find meaning in this world? To sustain a practice over a long period of time we need to ask ourselves these questions. 
Just practicing to be ‘good’ is not enough to carry you through a lifetime of yoga practice.

Take a moment at the end of your next practice, perhaps at the beginning of your Savasana, and ask yourself “Why do I practice?”

Yoga Reading for Men

Here are some great articles for men that provide better insight how yoga works therapeutically:

Geeta Iyengar (the daughter of Mr Iyengar) has embraced the effects of yoga postures in her article Restorative Asanas for Men.

Simon is a very experienced Iyengar Yoga Teacher at Marrickville Yoga Centre in Sydney. He created this restorative sequence specifically for men. 

This article provides a sequence after prostate surgery. The article was written by Frank Jesse – a very experienced Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in Australia according to www.cancer.org.au.

All yoga poses need to be applied under the guidance of a professional Iyengar Yoga Teacher.

Yoga for Men’s Health

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the health outcomes for males are often poorer than those of females. 

With this article, I would like to contribute and raise the awareness for men’s health issues. Here is my message to men:

Eat healthy, make sure you have enough sleep and exercise well. If you recognize any changes, see a doctor or talk to a mate.

Ignorance can be deadly

My dad used to say: Issues come and issues go. Then, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 50. After a saga of surgeries and chemotherapy he only made it to 55. Our son was just 3 ½ months old when my dad passed away. He was overwhelmed to witness his daughter having a baby but very sad that he could not be with his grandson as he grew up.

Yoga for Men?

My female students occasionally tell me that they wish their husbands would practice yoga, too. However, the men usually think that yoga is tailored for women.

It is obvious that my mature female students are better off in terms of health than their husbands. I often hear that ever since their husbands stopped working, they cannot muster the energy to be interested in anything including exercise.

For staying healthy you don’t need to lift heavy weights or run a marathon. Yoga is suitable for everyone. This is true!

Historically Yoga was only for Men

Looking at yoga history, scholars assume that yoga was practiced, taught and written about by men. It was mainly Indian men who traveled to the West to teach yoga. With the increase of women’s rights, yoga became more secularized and thus accessible for women. Today, more women are practicing yoga in the West than men.

Change happens

As we approach the 40’s, the body changes more noticeably. This results in increased muscle tension, short hamstrings and tightness around the joints. The weight usually increases because the metabolism slows down due to changes in the hormones. Even mental and emotional fluctuations can be explained by hormonal changes. An inflexible and weak body can induce back and shoulder pain as well as hip and knee problems. Incidentally, this is true for both sexes.

What kind of changes could you feel? Maybe there is a general immobility of the body, unsteadiness of the mind. There might be the notion that you are not happy and feel lethargic. Many men might believe these symptoms are a normal part of aging. But, it does not have to be this way.  

Know what to do … and breathe

Yoga is an option to counter these problems. Actually, it is a great possibility for change because the yoga movements holistically address the total body. So, not just the extremities, shoulders and spine but also the respiration. Bringing attention to breathing will have a positive influence on your nervous system and mind. After being active, breath becomes smoother and not forceful. As a result, the body and mind will experience a benevolent feeling. This will happen after each class!

Positive Effects of Yoga

Yoga increases the range of motion. This alone has many positive effects. Over the years blood circulation increases and digestive processes improve. More effective muscle performance leads to increased security due to better balance. Yoga is also effective in reducing stress by employing a number of relaxation techniques.

A Companion for Life

Yoga is a reliable companion and a beautiful way of life for every sex and age.

Once you are able to practise yoga you become your own teacher. You will be able to scan your body to assess yourself as you practice. This will help to reduce the incidence of injury also when playing other sports.

You can only feel it when you are attempting it!

In the following post I will mention some great articles for men that provide better insight how yoga works therapeutically. Read more.