Friday, January 31, 2014

Retreats in March and April 2014

I am very excited to be coming back to Sri Lanka in March.  I will be stopping over on my way to and from India where I am undertaking some advanced training with Simon and Bianca (Yoga Synergy gurus that I mention a lot!).  I can't be in Sri Lanka and not teach yoga and have at least two retreats booked (details below). I am still figuring out my workshop, course, and class schedule while I am in Sri Lanka and will post that later.
These two retreats are great opportunities for people who are serious about yoga.  You do not have to be an advanced student, just curious and interested in moving and learning to how to move pain-free.  I will be teaching ways to use your internal power and energy to move gracefully and with ease.  When I say internal power and energy I don't mean magic. I mean very practical tips that can help you learn (or relearn) movement patterns for long lasting health.
Since last coming to Sri Lanka my practice and teaching has evolved further and I will be helping you find ways to come into (even more) effortless arm balances along with free flowing backbends, side bends and forward bends and some interesting new twists.  You will learn the importance of using active movements and how the key to better stability, mobility, and freedom is to learn how to firm parts that need to be firm and, significantly, relax what needs to be relaxed.  
I say all of this bearing in mind that the main purpose of the practice is to move energy through your body.  It is not to stretch.  It is not to sweat.  It is not to have great abs and firm thighs.  Perhaps these things will happen when you practice correctly, but they are not the goals.  In this retreat I hope to help you move closer to understanding and experiencing how this movement of energy will help every cell in your body to sing!
I have quite a bit of experience working with people with various injuries and am happy to spend time between yoga sessions working personally if you need.  I really encourage you to contact me beforehand if you do have some sort of condition so that we can figure out if the retreat is appropriate for you at this time and how I might be able to help you.  
I will loosely be structuring the classes around how to get the most out of hip opening postures, how to build up and enhance your arm balancing postures, how to free your upper back and shoulders, and how to free your lower back.   All in the context of moving safely and ensuring the free-flow of energy through the body.  These sequences naturally lead to a state of meditative calm so sessions will finish with optional meditation.  
Because I am interested in you learning how to be your own best teacher, I will be offering sessions between the classes for questions and answers and for us to think deeply about particular issues or postures if you like so come along with some of your own ideas and questions and I can help make the retreat more personal for you. 
We need confirmation of rooms with payment ASAP to ensure the venue can hold the rooms for us.  Because there are limited rooms I am encouraging people to please consider sharing so that as many people can participate as possible.  
RETREAT 1: Arrive Thursday 13th March afternoon - Depart Sunday 16th March after breakfast by Noon
Venue: Talalla Retreat
Classes: 6  x 2 hour classes
RETREAT 2: Arrive Thursday 24th April afternoon - Depart Sunday 27th April after breakfast by Noon
 Venue: Talalla Retreat
Classes: 6  x 2 hour classes
Aside from the usual yoga there is the opportunity to relax by the pool or at the beach (should be better swimming by then!), or get a massage.  I have done so much yoga study and have undertaken a yoga therapy course so I am also happy to make myself available for discussion in between as well if anyone thinks they need more yoga!
The weekend will start arriving Thursday .  First yoga class starts on Thursday afternoon at 4.30pm.  From then we will have 2 classes on Friday, 2 on Saturday, and 1 on Sunday.  We depart after class and breakfast on the Sundays by Noon. 
There are only a limited number of rooms available so please book early, confirming with full payment 30 days in advance.  Unfortunately we cannot refund once booked but if you can find another person to take your spot that is fine!  All of the previous retreats have been booked out so please do get
The rate includes:
   All yoga classes
   Full board (tea/fruit before yoga; buffet style breakfast served at table; a la carte lunch (there is a menu to choose an item from), buffet style dinner)
You need to pay for any extra drinks or snacks you might have if the mega breakfast and dinner leave you hungry!  
Normal timetable is as follows
7am                     tea/fruit (if desired)
7.30-9.30am         yoga
9.30                     breakfast
RELAX                  (have massage, swim, read, have lunch around 1 or 2ish depending on how full you are after breakie)
4.30-6.30pm         yoga
7pm                     dinner
The prices quoted below are based on 3 nights per person.   You need to find a person to share with if you opt for double or triple but Tilak can try to put you in touch with other people if you need.   There are also some family rooms and rates available so please contact Tilak if required.  Children are allowed at Talalla and they can even arrange a babysitter if you request early (about Rs 1000/day).  The only thing we ask is that there is no pool play during yoga classes as the pool is in front of the yoga hall and it is unfair to ask kids to be quiet in a pool so it might be better for them to be at the beach during those times
Full payment is required by 13th February  for the first retreat and March 24th for the second one to confirm our space at Talalla. You can arrange paying Tilak directly or he can provide bank account details for you to transfer to if that is easier.
Single 3 nights                   Rs. 39,000/-
Double (share) 3 nights     Rs. 32,000/- per person
Triple (share) 3 nights       Rs. 30,000/- per person
Tilak's contact: (for arranging payment) 0773-912-100

Friday, January 24, 2014

Enjoy Moving!

What are you really trying to do when you practice?  It’s a good thing to think about, and, at different stages of our lives we might have different ideas about this.  Ultimately, however, I believe it’s a good idea to think of a simple aim such as to move and be free! 

The primary aim of my practice is to move.  To move my body.  To move energy and circulation through my body.  You can do this without practicing yoga but a careful yoga practice does help you learn to move circulation and energy in specific ways (and, indeed, a mindless practice can be harmful and perhaps even make you fat and weak, as Simon mentions in an interesting post of the same name). 

This is why when you come to my class you won’t see me getting us to hold poses for ages.  I won’t ever encourage you to stay there, hold, or feel the burn.  To me this is a sign that energy is stuck.  That you are stuck.  And it doesn’t feel good. 

This is why when you come to my class you won’t see me moving so deep into a pose that there is no ‘wiggle room’.   When I am in a pose, even one that looks difficult and complicated, you will see me still trying to wriggle around.  If I can’t wriggle around and move then I am stuck.  Energy will probably be stuck too. 

Stretching too much and tensing too much will block the flow of energy through your body.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to back off slightly and allow yourself space to move. 

As you watch and practice this short sequence, remind yourself that the aim is to move.  Even when it looks as though I am holding a pose for a few seconds, remind yourself that you should still feel as though you have the potential to move.  Most importantly, enjoy moving!  That is what your body is designed to do.  If you cannot follow me exactly don’t worry!  Who cares?  Make something up.  Something that feels good.  Move slowly, with awareness, without strain.  Relax and breathe, but breathe a bit less if you can.  Small sips of breath, as though at rest.

This short practice lasts less than 8 minutes.  But you should feel warm by the end (a sign circulation has moved), relaxed, calm, and focussed.  You should feel like you have done something but not exhausted yourself. 

These are things I have had the privilege of learning from my teachers, Paddy McGrath, and Simon and Bianca at Yoga Synergy, and I encourage you to get to them when you can.  If you are in Canberra or Sri Lanka though, I will do my best to convey my understandings of their teachings in their absence.

Happy and safe practicing!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cultivating Ease

I mainly use Facebook to post about yoga classes.  One of my teachers (Simon and Bianca from Yoga Synergy) posted an amazing practice on his page by a young Chinese artist performing extraordinary movements with elegance and ease.  I reposted it on my own page but if you are not linked to me (send me an invite if you want to be) you can see the video demonstration here.

When I watch this young man move the cells of my body sing and want to move.  What he does is well beyond me and my intention in reposting is not to suggest that any of us would be aiming for such poses (though let's not dismiss the possibility!).  What we might like to emulate, however, is to explore ways of moving that are help us feel effortless, light, and elegant.  In the end, it does not matter whether you can be in the full physical expression of a pose, it matters more that you find this way of moving so that you feel good.  

Remember, the main purpose of the practice is to move circulation and energy through the body and you will do this if you stretch less, tense less, think less, and, if you can manage, breathe less.  In the end you should find that you can move more (pain-free), and feel more relaxed, calm and focussed. This is a good thing to keep in mind in one of the many new sequences I will be teaching on my return, which includes hanumanasana (front splits).   

A few interesting points as you watch (or re-watch):
  • Note the extreme clawing of the hands/fingertips in the extreme arm balances.  We really need to press down through our fingertips when performing arm balances.  Ours will not be so extreme but it is still an important way of generating power and preventing us from collapsing into the wrist joints.
  • Note how he stands up again from the side splits.  This is exactly what we want to cultivate when we practice similar postures.  In hanumanasana rather than stretching out and deeper, you actually want to feel as though you are lifting yourself up from the floor.  Remember, there are no yoga poses (at least ones that I can think of) where you want to feel like sinking.  Especially in extreme postures like the splits you need to think of being strong in them rather than just stretching and collapsing.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video.  Happy and safe practicing!

Much metta,