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.

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).

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.

Yoga in times of COVID-19: We are online!

Last week I told you about my crash course in streaming yoga classes live via the Internet. After much deliberation I decided against a webinar (where you only see me on screen and follow the instructions) and in favour of a two-way video conference where I can also see and hear you and give you feedback on your poses and necessary adjustments.

The trial sessions last week were a success (after some initial technical problems) with many of you commenting that this works surprisingly well. Hence, it’s a go!

Regular online yoga classes will commence on Monday, 9 April!

We will be using Zoom which is easy to use and has all the functionality we need. The process to join is as follows:

  1. Check the Class Schedule and select the class that you would like to attend
  2. Register by clicking on the class and then ‘Register here’ and pay for your pass online or via bank transfer (no cash in class, sorry :-)).
  3. After payment, I will send you an email to the email address you used when registering (The sender of this email is ‘info@northsideyoga.com.au’. Please, make sure that you can receive emails from this email address.)
  4. The email contains the link and password for the Zoom Yoga Class.
  5. Please, join the meeting about 5 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time to iron out any technical issues. I will open the meeting 15 minutes before the scheduled time in case of questions.
  6. Have fun!

Recommendations for the best experience:

Use a computer with a webcam, speakers and a microphone OR a laptop with integrated webcam and mic OR an iPAD (with some sort of stand). Headphones don’t work well for yoga.

You need your yoga mat and props ready before the class starts. You can order props by clicking here (Iyogaprops) or here (EMP Industries) and bolsters by clicking here (Stretch Now) (and no, I don’t have any affiliation with them.)

Make sure that you can see the screen and that the camera has a good view of you on your mat. The light needs to come from behind the camera. Minimise background noise as everybody will be able to hear it.

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.

Sequence for Practicing at Home

If you would like to develop a home practice of yoga in addition to your class practice here are four sequences I found on the Internet which might be a good starting point.

Yoga Home Practice Sequence (credit Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York)

This document contains four sequences which you can do at your own pace wherever you are (credits go to the American Iyengar Yoga Association and the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York). They require minimal use of props or you can substitute the props for something you have at home for instance a normal chair. There is also a Level 2 for more advanced students (please be advised not to do inversions when you are menstruating).

If you have any questions regarding the sequence or a specific pose, please do not hesitate to contact me.