Now that the whole yoga community is operating online, students have even more choice in an already very crowded market. The trouble with too much choice is that it creates confusion and overwhelm. In the beginning you may try lots of different classes hoping to find the right fit, but this could take a long time and leave you confused.
So how do you go about choosing the right yoga classes to suit your new lifestyle?
1. If you are already a member of a yoga studio and you are happy there then the choice is simple. Most studios have quickly moved their classes online and will contact you with the technical aspects of this transition. By supporting your yoga studio during this time, you are also ensuring their survival so that you will have a place to go back to after isolation. Most studios are providing livestream through Zoom or Vimeo in real time, so you login at the prescribed class time. If you prefer to practice in your own time, they will most likely provide you with a replay.
2. If you usually go to various studios e.g. with Class Pass or similar, then you may want to reflect on who your favourite teachers are. Choose 2 or 3 and follow them on social media to find their online offerings. This is a good choice if you like variety, and it means that you can pick teachers with different strengths for a well-rounded practice.
3. If you haven’t found a teacher to connect with then ask what kind of yoga you’d like to focus on at this stage of your yoga journey. Maybe you are due for a change? Maybe you need to slow down and explore more meditative practices? Maybe you feel idle and need to move more? YouTube is a great resource to help you find the style of yoga that you want to focus on during this period of isolation. Once you find a style that suits you, you can try out different teachers that specialise in that particular style. Once you have 1 or 2 teachers that you resonate with, you can follow them on social media to find their online offerings.
Livestream vs Video
A livestream class is the closest thing we have to a live class in that other people login at the same time as you. You can choose whether to be seen or not, and whether to be heard or not. Usually there’s a bit of chit chat before and/or after class, with the teacher and/or other students. If you have good internet, a bigger computer screen (or ability to connect to a TV) and a good microphone on your computer then this can be a good choice. If not, you may find that technical issues may get in the way of your experience.
With video you have the choice of when and where to watch, you also have the ability to pause (for example if you wanted to stay in a pose longer) and the visual/sound quality is usually better.
It’s a good idea to try both methods and see for yourself what allows you to focus on your practice without too many outside distractions.
If possible, set up a dedicated space in your home where your mat and props can stay. This will remind you and encourage you to practice regularly.
If you’d like to sample my teachings, I have some free classes available at:
Most importantly, don’t let your practice slip. More than ever, this is the time to really dive into our yoga to keep us healthy in body, mind and spirit.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Autumn is associated with Metal: the element of structure. Here are some of the qualities of the metal element to inspire your practice.
🌟 To keep the metal element balanced we need structure as well as an ability to let go and allow ourselves to be supported
🌟 Metal comes from the deep layers of the Earth and symbolises the discovery of our own self worth and value
🌟 Metal allows us to shine, to be brilliant, to inspire
🌟 Each and everyone of us is a different facet of the divine, that means that we all have something to offer. Don’t hide or compare yourself to others because no one is you and you only need to be YOU
🌟 Metal also has a component of flexibility as it can be remoulded many times
🌟 When metal gets too strong, however, it becomes rigid
🌟 Ideally strength and flexibility work together in harmony, each complimenting and supporting one another
🌟 This is the balance we strive for on our yoga mat, within ourselves and in our relationships
🌟 Metal governs our respiration, the lungs take in Chi from the universe for our body to use
🌟 To keep metal balanced we need structure and routine as well as the ability to let go and allow ourselves to be supported
🌟We aim to soften our boundaries to connect with others, to be social and spontaneous, and to give ourselves the time to follow our passion
🌟 A yoga practice that includes many chest-opening poses will support the metal element
🌟 Make sure you warm up the body before practicing backbends
🌟 Start gently with poses that open the chest
🌟 Breathe into the back body
🌟Take your time to move mindfully
🌟 Focus on stretching the intercostal muscles to create more space in the chest
🌟 More space in the chest means more lung capacity
🌟More lung capacity means more prana can enter the body
🌟 More Prana means more life force, more strength and better immunity
🌟 To support the Metal element spend time in nature to stimulate your lungs and to strengthen your immune system
🌟If Metal energy is weak, it can be difficult to let go and navigate the ups and downs of life, which can result in prolonged sadness
🌟 The metal element invites us to slow down, to find stillness, and draws us into deep meditation
🌟 For some of us slowing down is a welcome reminder but in practice it’s not always so easy when we have all the things on the mind
🌟 Don’t worry, you are not alone
🌟 Be kind and patient with yourself and remember that if you’ve taken the time to practice, you’re already a legend. And if you haven’t, tomorrow’s another day.
🌟 Dive deep into your practice, close your eyes and notice the subtleties of your interior landscape
Join me to explore this beautiful practice at my ‘Fall for Yin’ Autumn workshop Sunday 15th March 5-7pm. Book at Yoginithreads.com/events.
A change of season calls for a change in how we approach our yoga practice.
Nature is there to guide us to find our deepest truth.
In Autumn she shows us how to slow down and release what is no longer needed.
🍁 As the weather cools and we begin to draw our energy inward. Autumn gives us the opportunity to pause, reflect and process.
🍁Autumn is the season of transformation associated with cycles, the rhythm of the breath and releasing
🍁In Autumn we witness transformation in nature, as trees shed their leaves in preparation for the cold winter.
🍁 Just as the decaying leaves add rich nutrients to the soil, we also need to nourish ourselves with gentle and compassionate practices.
🍁Nature teaches us to let go and release what we no longer need, it shows us that it’s time to slow down, reflect, and observe.
🍁Autumn is the bridge that crosses away from the active Yang summer season toward its complimentary passive Yin winter season.
🍁Autumn teaches us to move with awareness to create the space for transition and growth.
🍁Autumn connects us back to ourselves, to generate a gradual and healthy transition to the coming darker season.
Join me to explore all things AUTUMN at the ‘FALL FOR YIN’ Autumn Yin & Sound Healing workshop on Sunday 15th March 5-7pm. Suitable for all levels, no experience required.
Book your space at Yoginithreads.com/events.
As we end our journey through the chakras, it’s clear that the chakras are a rich and fascinating way to approach our yoga practice. Each chakra contains its own particular quality, symbolism and flavour.
As yogis we learn to connect to the subtleties of the chakra system so that we can notice where we might have excessive or deficient energies. We are then better informed on where we need to adjust and find balance.
When all our chakras are balanced we can access the liberation found at the last chakra, Sahasrara.
Here is a recap of what we have learnt this week...
👑 The seventh chakra “Sahasrara” means “Thousand petal lotus” with the number 1000 being a symbol of infinity.
👑 Sahasrara is often referred to as the Crown chakra as it resides at the Crown of the head and hovers a few inches above it.
👑 This energy center is associated with the element of thought, spirit, consciousness, enlightenment, and unity.
👑 At the Crown Chakra the thousand-petalled lotus blooms and finds fulfilment in the union of knowledge as a symbol of complete, unfolding consciousness.
👑 Sahasrara is associated with the pituitary gland, the master gland which produces hormones and governs the function of all other endocrine glands.
👑 Sahasrara is the chakra which integrates all the chakras with their respective qualities.
👑 The Crown chakra is where we experience total connection, deep peace, unconditional love and tranquility.
👑 Connecting to the Sahasrara means seeing no difference between good or bad. It means seeing every thing and every one as the same.
👑 Meditating at the Crown chakra allows us to open to what is beyond our personal preoccupations and visions.
👑 The function of the Crown chakra is driven by consciousness and gets us in touch with the universal.
“You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here” - Alan Watts
Ajna better known as the third eye chakra is the energetic centre connected to wisdom and insight. It’s here that we connect to our inner guru, the teacher within that guides and illuminates our way. Being still and quiet in this space can reward us with wise guidance which is beyond the rational mind. Meditating on this chakra shines a light on aspects of our lives that we were not previously aware of, revealing that which was previously unknown.
This chakra is connected to our 6th sense, that deep intuition of clairvoyance located in the Cave of Brahma deep in the brain just above the pineal gland. This small gland releases melatonin and is activated when we are visualising or in a dream state. Working with the symbolic language of dreams helps us to enhance our capacity to access deeper truths, to see beyond the mind, and beyond words. Meditating on Ajna allows us to internalise the outer world and with symbolic language to externalise the inner world. Through the understanding of this symbolism, we can visualise our place in a greater context.
This chakra draws us into the power of visualisation, imagination, and abstraction. It’s here that we can play with our imagination and create the visions of our desires. Visualisation is a powerful tool that can expand our consciousness.
When it is used wisely, awakening the Ajna chakra allows us to see beyond limitations. We can discern object from subject and the consciousness that witnesses both. It’s this awareness that allows us to remain steady within the chaos of external compulsions and to not over-react to every stimulus that we are subject to. It’s from this practice that we experience increased intuition, better direction in life, and an understanding of the purpose of our soul.
Focus here, concentrate here and you will see things crystal clear. Ajna is wisdom.
This week we focus our energies at Vishuddha, the throat chakra to create spaciousness around the throat and neck, through which profound spiritual truths can flow.
Vishuddha governs self-expression and our ability to communicate effectively. When the throat chakra is balanced we are confident and able to express ourselves to others clearly and effectively.
One of the easiest ways to balance visuddha is by chanting, the seed mantra for this energy centre is ‘ham’. Some of the most widely used Yoga asanas that activate visuddha are Matsyasana (fish), Makarasana (crocodile), Ashtangasana (eight-limbed pose), Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), Simhasana (lion’s pose), Sasangasana (rabbit), and Halasana (plow).
Visuddha is the energy vortex that harmonizes our ability to express ourselves and communicate with others. It is the chakra of musicians, artists, writers, poets, or any artist who uses sound and vibration as their medium. When visuddha is open we connect to our imagination and flow through the river of creativity with ease.
The most important lesson to take away from visuddha is learning to express ourselves freely and authentically.
“Our body is an instrument played by divine breath. It is our job to keep the instrument well tuned and to listen to the voice of truth moving through us” - Anodea Judith
The mid way point of the chakra system is Anahata, the heart centre, representing connection, compassion, kindness and love. Anahata is an integrating and unifying chakra bridging our terrestrial nature and our spirit, as such it’s our main healing centre.
Our emotions live here and the heart is extremely vulnerable and sensitive so it’s little wonder that this chakra demands the most amount of healing. All the emotional wounds that we are subjected to throughout life are stored here. After wounding the natural reaction of the heart is to protect itself from further harm and whilst this is useful and necessary for a time, eventually we need the ability to open the heart again so that it can be healed. What sometimes happens is that this very opening feels too risky and so the heart remains closed. As a result we can be left unable to truly feel or to truly love ourselves and others. By working on the Heart chakra, we learn to let go of old wounds and shift into a state of liberation.
Associated with the element of air, Anahata evokes softness and expansion, these are the qualities that allow us to give and receive love, and to have compassion for all sentient beings. All spiritual traditions recognise love as our most powerful healing force available to us with the understanding that we are all connected and part of the greater whole.
Anahata governs the sense of touch and the skin, and as humans it is through touch that we create deep bonds with others, it is how we develop kindness, caring and generosity.
When Anahata is out of balance it can manifest as codependency, manipulative behaviour, feeling unworthy, and the inability to trust ourselves or others.
When Anahata is balanced and energy is flowing freely, we are loving to ourselves and to others. We are able to say no when we need self-care and self-nurturing giving us healthy boundaries. We feel surrounded by love and compassion, with a strong heartfelt connection to the world around us. This connection to all other sentient beings and nature paves the way for spiritual growth.
Essentially Anahata teaches us to feel the love, intuition, and wisdom that transcends the physical world.
The Third Chakra, Manipura is at the Solar Plexus in centre of the body just above the navel. Energetically is represents personal power and identity. Symbolically, its element is fire and its colour is yellow.
The Solar Plexus chakra governs issues around focus, commitment, discipline, authority, co-operation, integrity, choice, decisions, courage, faith, intention, willingness, peace and autonomy.
In yoga we aim to balance all the chakras and to tune the body into a harmonious whole. Heat is a powerful transformer, so we can work with Manipura to transform obstacles into assets. Physically, Imbalances in this chakra often show up in our digestive fire and energy levels.
When your Solar Plexus chakra is in balance:
🔥You feel serene and have a gentle attitude towards others.
🔥You are able to stand up for your beliefs and fight for your rights.
🔥You are not afraid of others therefore don’t feel the need to be defensive or harsh.
🔥You have the stamina and motivation to stay on your course no matter what’s going on around you.
🔥You are accountable and you don’t shirk away from responsibility.
🔥You are able to find personal fulfilment.
🔥You are able to take time to do what is needed to process and understand your emotions.
When your Solar Plexus chakra is out of balance (excessive or deficient):
🔥You may be a bully who feels they have to push their weight around to feel empowered.
🔥You may prioritise pleasing others before yourself.
🔥You may feel disempowered and threatened easily.
🔥You may suffer from panic or fear and have a sense of preparing for the worst.
🔥You may feel unable to live your truth and be who you really are.
🔥You may have a need to control others
🔥You may suffer from low self-esteem.
🔥You may worry a lot about all sorts of things with no ideas for resolution.
Keeping a balanced Manipura is key to having healthy self-confidence, energy, wisdom and having the ability to get things done.
Today’s oracle reading is for the late summer period which we are currently in for those in the Southern Hemisphere, it runs from the Summer Solstice to the start of Autumn.
I picked a card from the left pile, the Yin side, that represents our internal state, and a card from the right pile, the Yang side, that represents our relationship to the outer world.
🌙 The Yin card THE MOON reads: “For flowing creativity, unique artistry, lush growth and abundant blossoming, tap into your dreams, the unconscious, the fertile field of wild, untethered imagination”
Indeed this card is probably the most Yin in the whole deck. Traditionally the moon represents the feminine, the hidden, the imagination and dreams. How does this relate to what is happening in your life? Perhaps you are formulating a new creation or idea which hasn’t fully bloomed but is being processed in your deep unconscious, ready to be birthed.
🦚 The Yang card THE HIEROPHANT reads: “Lay your gifts at the altar, offer your learning, share your knowledge, your battles won, your blessings bestowed, your understanding of this beautiful world”
This card is very Yang in the sense that it’s very action-orientated, it speaks about doing and being ‘out there’. I’ve used a peacock in this picture and they are very flamboyant birds, happy to show off their beauty, happy to expand their feathers and to stand out from the crowd. I also mentioned in the video the peacock’s ability to digest the poison of the cobra without causing himself any harm. This is about the ability to assimilate our experiences and to turn them into usable creations. If you are faced with a challenge, how can you turn that into something creative and beautiful? In traditional tarot, the Hierophant is often a male figure of authority that may be a teacher, a counsellor or, it sometimes represents a marriage... a union of opposites.
🌅 Interestingly enough, the late summer season is governed by the stomach and the spleen - both of which are used for the purposes of digestion and assimilation. The transition from Summer to Autumn is one of transformation, it is a time for purpose, intent and integrity.
🎭 For me this spread speaks to bringing out my inner creativity that has been gaining momentum in the deep unconscious, and marrying that to the outside world. It speaks of courage and bravery, it’s encouraging me to show my full light and colour to the world. What does it mean to you?
If you’d like your own set of The Wise Yogini Oracle cards, you can purchase them at www.yoginithreads.com/shop
Luckily many employers have now embraced a workplace wellbeing program. Having the opportunity to switch off work-mode in the middle of the day with yoga or meditation increases work satisfaction and promotes team work and bonding. I’m not going to say that it increases productivity because that should not be the reason why we look after our physical and mental health at work and beyond.
I have different offerings available for lunchtime yoga at your workplace outlined below. If your workplace hasn’t caught on yet, you may wish to pass this on as a (not so subtle) hint 🙂
1. GENTLE SLOW FLOW
Provides a general overall stretch, with some breathing practice at the start and some meditation practice at the end. This works well where is is a diverse range of experience and will suit all levels. The sequence will be similar each week giving participants the opportunity to build on their skills and see an improvement in their strength, flexibility, mobility, awareness and general wellbeing. It’s not too dynamic so there’s no sweating, and therefore no need to shower.
Participants need to bring a mat and wear comfortable clothing. Suitable for all levels.
2. CHAKRA YOGA
A slow flow mindful practice with a focus on the energetic body. We explore a different chakra each week. This is popular for creative industries because there’s a lot of symbolism, colour and visual imagery associated with the chakra system. It’s a more varied practice as we practice something different each week.
Participants need to bring a mat and wear comfortable clothing. Suitable for all levels.
3. YIN YOGA
A very slow mindful practice specifically designed to target the connective fascia tissue and meridian flow in the body. A gentle yet powerful practice, Yin yoga promotes hydration and is great for stiff bodies that need more flexibility. It also encourages slowing down and develops internal meditative states.
This is suitable only in work places that have a dedicated gym or yoga space because props are required i.e bolsters, blankets, mats and blocks. Participants need wear comfortable clothing. Suitable for all levels.
4. SOUND HEALING MEDITATION
A passive absorbing practice for deep relaxation. I play my crystal bowls which are very soothing and great for reducing workplace stress. This option is the most popular for workplaces because it’s easy in terms of logistics, you don’t need any equipment or special clothing. People can either sit on chairs, on the floor or laying down. It’s a complete deep relaxation with nothing for participants to ‘do’. Suitable for all levels.