Monthly Archives: November 2013

Why Chant Om in Yoga?

India2012 263Om is one of the most popular mantras, or sacred chants, practised in yoga. You’ll often find it chanted at the beginning and or end of the class, but why?

A mantra creates a vibration through the body, different sounds create different vibrations so impact the body in various ways. The mantra OM is believed to be the sound of the universe, the first sound of creation and is said to be the foundation for where all other sounds/mantras emerge.

Yoga means union, that is the bringing together of all aspects of your being ( for example physical, emotional, energetic, your breath) with The Divine. Chanting the mantra OM is believed to connect you to the energy of The Divine.

From a Chakra (the 7 natural energy centres we have running through our spine) perspective chanting OM rises up and awakens each Chakra in turn. When you break down the sound of OM, you actually get A U M. A vibrates through your lower chakras, the root and sacral. Chanting U sends a vibration through your solar plexus and heart. M finishes off in your throat chakra and third eye.

When you chant Om loudly it can be energising, but when you chant it softly it is calming.

You can also silently chant it to yourself inwardly for meditation, which helps to focus and calm the mind.

The proportion of how long you chant the AUUUUU bit to the MMMMM bit will affect how you feel. In the morning it is good to do the AUUUU longer for energising you for the day ahead, but in the evening it’s better to make the MMMMM longer as it has a calming, tranquillising affect to prepare you for meditation or sleep.

When you hear people chant Om Shanti Shanti Shanti at the end, this means peace to all. Shanti means peace.

Also the sound vibration of chanting OM in a yoga class really brings everyone in the room together and helps to calm busy minds. I’ve chanted OM in a mums & toddlers class before, all the children stop what they are doing and go silent, it’s amazing!

If you have any more yoga related questions please do email me and I’ll be happy to answer them. [email protected]



6 Ways To Make Yoga Easier!

photo (26)Yoga should never feel hard, it goes against the point of it. Often when discussing yoga with people who have not tried it before they wrongly assume you need to be super bendy and have to be able to balance on your head.

Of course this is something some people are and do, but you don’t have to if it’s not right for you. Some people are more strong than flexible. Some are great at sitting still whilst others fidget like crazy. We are all different. Yoga can be simply sitting crossed legged with your back straight focusing on the deep inhalation and exhalation of your breath. It can even be just lying on the floor allowing yourself to fully relax, we all love Savasana!

If you find yourself struggling in a yoga class, here are 6 ways to make yoga easier;

  1. Do not eat up to 2 hours before you practice. A full tummy just does not feel comfortable when you are forward bending, twisting across it and turning upside down. You will just feel lighter if you hold off eating your dinner beforehand, and of course avoid those uncomfortable moments of wanting to fart in a class…..we’ve all been there!
  2. Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine, and too much sugar, stimulates the mind. The idea of yoga is to calm the mind. The two just do not go together. For example, half of being able to balance on one leg is to slow the mind, when you have a million thoughts whizzing around your head after a coffee you will wobble around all over the place. Caffeine also affects your breath, it becomes quicker and shallow. Yoga poses are not a race, the idea is to come slowly into them and allow yourself to just be still once you are there, this is very hard if you have a stimulant rushing through your veins.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes. Make sure your clothes have stretch in them and wont ride up or bother you through out the class. You don’t want to be distracted about your top exposing you or feeling uncomfortable with a too tight waist band or trousers with no give in them.
  4. Do not compare yourself to others. We are all unique, our bodies are all different and what you will be excel at someone will struggle with and visa versa. When are you are busy looking at what everyone else is doing you are not focusing inwards which is the point of yoga. If you compare yourself to others in yoga, and in life, you will only ever strive to be as good as them, but your own path is so much more special and unique to you.
  5. Surrender, do not force. Yoga teaches you how to “be” in the moment. The phrase no pain no gain is not applicable in yoga at all. The more you try to force a pose the more likely you are to tighten up and potentially injure yourself. Just do what you can and then surrender to the pose, focus on your breath and calm your mind.
  6. Breathe. Yes this is an obvious one and if you have been to any yoga classes you will have noticed the teacher goes on and on about remembering to breathe…. This is yoga! Without moving with the breath, focusing on the breath and deepening the breath you are just doing a stretch class. Your inhale brings you fresh new energy and expands your body, your exhale releases, lets go and relaxes.  Use the breath to help you move through your yoga practice, and this will spill over into your life. I used to have panic attacks on the tube in London until I learnt to use my breath to keep me calm.

If you have any doubts or questions about going to a yoga class please do get in touch, I am happy to answer any questions; [email protected]

Why Set An Intention For A Yoga Class?

India 2011 162At the beginning of each yoga class I teach I set an intention, or focus, for the session. It might be something like love, being present, detachment, connecting with stillness, playfulness and so on. What is the point of it though?

I am a big fan of intention, in fact I am writing a blog/book on it. An intention is similar to a goal, something you would like to create in your life but it’s also a way of being. You can choose how you are being in every moment of life by having the intention to do so. The idea is that what you want in your life you can access within you right now, it’s a way of “being the goal”.

For example if you are looking for love, then be love. Be loving to yourself and everyone you come into contact with.

If you want less stress then be peaceful.

If you want more money, be giving, open up to an abundant mindset and be grateful of all you have.

When you are living with intention you have a purpose, a drive, a chosen way of being that you have decided upon. As Deepak Chopra explains where you place your attention that area grows but where you place your intention it transforms.

In a yoga class when you set an intention you have an opportunity to explore different ways of being in life and what impact that has on how you think and feel. How we move our bodies reflects what is going on in our mind. For example if you are very goal driven and caught up in a mindset of trying hard and striving, then you might be quite forceful, direct, tense in your body and your movement. Playing around with focusing on being peaceful instead, consciously relaxing your body through out the class will give you a different experience of being. From this insights may appear that you can take into life off the mat.

Your breath, physiology, state and performance are all interlinked.  If you change your breathing it will have an impact on your body, what state you are in and how you behave. if you change how you move your body, that also will change your breathing, state and performance. Change your state and that also creates change in the other areas.

A great way to test this is when you are feeling a bit down to go and skip down the road, or hula hoop. I guarantee it will lift you out of the state you were in.

So back to intention, by focusing on a way of being for the hours class it will start to create a shift in how you are thinking, feeling, breathing and moving. I love intention, it simply empowers how you are in your life.

How about trying out and setting an intention for today?

My intention today is least resistance, I am going to move through my day relaxed, not trying to force anything to happen or having the need to get across my point of view. I am just going to go with the flow and enjoy the day with ease. Sounds lovely….. 🙂



Using Yoga To Challenge Your Beliefs

India2012 083The beliefs we have about ourselves and the world around us can rule our lives. The positive beliefs serve and support us where as the negative ones can really hold us back if we are not careful.

Beliefs have a tendency to become self fulfilling prophecies. I’ll use a very common one as an example – “I am not good enough”;

Belief – I am not good enough.

Expectation – If you believe you are not good enough you will go into a situation with that expectation in mind, whether it’s conscious or unconscious.

Behaviour – The expectation of not being good enough will affect how you behave in the situation, again consciously or most often unconsciously. For example in a yoga class not feeling good enough may hold you back from challenging yourself to the next level, trying something new or even going to a class at all.

Outcome – Your behaviour will affect the outcome, for example by not trying something new/ challenging yourself/ going to the class you will never get past the point of where you are at now, keeping yourself stuck feeling not good enough.

The outcome then reinforces your belief and the circle goes round again.

The thing is we have generally made up our beliefs during our early childhood when we didn’t have the adult wisdom we have now. They have been going round and round like this in our minds gaining strength over the years until we can’t see things any other way. We were not born as babies with these negative beliefs and they are not the truth.

Our positive beliefs also work in the same way but the difference with them is that they support us. We also often have concrete evidence to support them, like results we have achieved, feedback from others  and so on. The negative ones are just meanings we have made up to the outcome of situations based on childhood experience and decision we made about ourselves back then.

We can change our beliefs, we made them up before so we can make them up again!

Once you have acknowledged what your negative belief is you can start to question, why is this rubbish? Often we don’t ever bother to do this so just questioning it can start to break it down.

The next stage is to work out what you would rather believe, what would support you in life rather than hold you back?

Repetition of this new belief will start to build new neural pathways, thought patterns, to become the way you think. Also creating evidence to support it will help to. This is where your yoga practice comes in.

Notice in yoga where you feel challenged, where you stop and maybe drop into child’s pose instead of trying something new. Notice what you say to yourself in those moments. This could be evidence of a belief you are holding on to.

Then step out of your comfort zone and try something different. I’ll give you a personal example of where I have experienced this through yoga and it shifted my mindset.

When ever I was in a yoga class and people would start to go up into headstand I wouldn’t even try. I wasn’t good enough yet, I wouldn’t be able to do it, there was no point in trying. There was also something there around asking for help, I didn’t like to, I was self sufficient I didn’t need to ask. Until one day determination took over and I decided to challenge myself, I also asked for help!

The teacher helped me to get up into headstand and stood by me while I was in it to stop me from falling over backwards. This was my biggest fear, that I would flip over and injure myself. Over time, practising and practising I gradually was able to get up there and stay on my own. Of course I had flipped over a lot before then, and this taught me that it’s ok to fall and it’s nothing to be scared of, it’s all part of the journey.

Mastering a pose that I had been scared of and didn’t think I was good enough to do backed up more empowering beliefs like “I can do anything I set my mind to”, “It’s ok to ask for help” and “I am good enough”!

It was after mastering the headstand that I felt I could train to be a yoga teacher. Which is crazy as I now know as a teacher you do not have to be able to do a headstand, it’s not a requirement, but it was just something that shifted my confidence anyway!

If yoga is something you’d like to try but you have been putting it off because you aren’t flexible/strong/ calm minded enough then just give it a go anyway! There is no set requirement for yoga, we are all different.

If you already practice yoga look for opportunities to challenge your beliefs and empower yourself in life.