Yoga Focus – What is Ashtanga Yoga?

If you’ve ever taken a vinyasa class with me, you will be familiar with a lot of the poses from the ashtanga lineage. Vinyasa yoga is essentially a free flowing version of ashtanga – anything goes. Ashtanga is itself quite the opposite; a set number of postures, in a set order…every time.

You may think this sounds a little restrictive and (gasp!) boring, but that is not the case with Ashtanga. There are so many poses and vinyasas (breath with movement) in and out of the poses, that boredom is the last thing on your mind. Lets take a closer look…

Historically speaking…

Ashtanga is a dynamic form of Hatha yoga that has its roots in the town of Mysore, south India. The ashtanga method is an ancient system of yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Kurunta. It is believed that the text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari.

Ashtanga means ‘eight limbs’ as described by Patanjali (an Indian sage) in the Yoga Sutras (the Sutras are believed to have been written between the 2nd and 4th century CE). This text is the authority on the practice and true nature of yoga – the eight limbs must be practiced in order to realise our true potential, our true nature and transcend human suffering. Ashtanga embodies these eight limbs:

  • Yamas (behavioural observances – things that we should do)
  • Niyamas (behavioural restraints – things that we should not do)
  • Asana (physical yoga postures)
  • Pranayama (yogic breathwork to control the flow of our life force energy)
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (liberation)

The practice that we know today as Ashtanga yoga was first developed, practiced and taught by the yogi Krishnamachrya in Mysore, India. A student of Krishnamacharya, Pattabhi Jois continued the work of sharing the ashtanga method throughout the world. Today the method is continued by Manju and Sharath Jois (son and grandson of Pattabhi respectively). Ashtanga yoga is therefore a lineage as well as a practice and encourages many dedicated, life-long practitioners throughout the world.

What to expect

Ashtanga yoga is taught in series’ of postures and each student of ashtanga practices the postures according to their own ability. Students are ‘given’ postures by the teacher and practice their sequence individually (although in classes with others) under the guidance of the teacher. Each student therefore is carrying out their individual practice, broadly the same as the other students and yet unique to them. More postures are added to the series as the student grows in strength and flexibility until completion of a series. The next series can then begin (phew!).

This individual approach to yoga (rather than being in a class where everybody is taught the same thing and follows the teacher through the class) is known as ‘Mysore style’ after the place it was originally taught by Krishnamachrya and Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga can also be presented as a ‘led’ class in the style that we are familiar with, where everybody works through the poses at the same time guided by the teacher – this style is a great place to start your practice.

All students of ashtanga start by learning the postures of the Primary Series. This series is known as Yoga Chikitsa or yoga therapy. The aim is to loosen the body and free the practitioner from stiffness or weakness and allow them the freedom to practice fully. You will find hip opening, hamstring lengthening, spinal flexibility, strength and stamina in the Primary Series.

Is it for me?

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic practice so you should be prepared to work hard. However, it isn’t yoga for the advanced only and it certainly isn’t reserved for the flexible. Ashtanga often has a reputation for rigidity, but the practice lends itself to variation and modification to suit the individual. Nobody starts an ashtanga practice able to ‘do’ all of the postures. There is work for everybody in this practice.

So what exactly will you find at an ashtanga class?

Structure – the Primary Series (where we all start) consists of sun salutations, fundamental asanas (postures), standing sequence, seated sequence, backbends and a closing sequence. You will learn to know what to expect, but no two days are the same for your body.

Sweat – the practice of ashtanga builds heat in the body. It can be strenuous and definitely raises the heart rate.

Breath-work – each movement in ashtanga is accompanied by the breath. We use the breath to move in and out of poses or hold poses for a breath count. This is the vinyasa – breath with movement.

Meditation – ashtanga, though a strong dynamic practice, becomes a moving meditation due to the structure, breath and counted nature of the vinyasas. You leave the mind behind and crowd out thoughts with the practice.

Accomplishment – The yoga journey is never about achieving postures but about moving beyond the ego to reside in peace; the true nature of the self. Due to the dynamic nature of ashtanga, you will also feel like you have achieved great things. Your body and mind will change with a consistent practice.

Ashtanga is a great place to advance your practice. If you’ve been a yogi for a few years and have felt the magic of yoga, the ashtanga method might be for you. Step outside the comfort zone, try new things and surprise yourself; find strength in backbends, find balance in headstand, find calm in deep twists.

Join me twice a month on Wednesday evenings to get to know the ashtanga method. Master the mind and the body and feel the endorphins flow!

Om shanti shanti shanti

Yoga Focus – What is Kundalini Yoga?

Often referred to as the ‘Yoga of Awareness’ or ‘Holistic Yoga’, Kundalini yoga is a practice fusing several ancient practices and principles to enable the practitioner to manage and manipulate the energetic flow in the body. Kundalini includes the practices of Bhakti yoga (devotion and mantra chanting) Raja yoga (meditation, mental and physical control) and Shakti yoga (the expression and control of energy or power).

A kundalini yoga class can leave you feeling like you’ve been to therapy, done a workout and felt the earth move – vibrationally speaking. Kundalini is a modality by which practitioners can deeply cleanse the nervous system, tune into their inner potential and release energetic blockages or imbalances to find a peaceful life and a balanced outlook. This isn’t just yoga to make the body feel better – this is yoga that can create shifts in every area of your life.

Historically speaking…

The exact date and emergence of kundalini tantra is unclear, but the practices of kundalini energy manipulation and philosophy are mentioned in the Upanishads (vedic yoga texts) dating back to 1000 BC. The term Kundalini means a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine and often represented by a coiled snake. Practicing Kundalini yoga awakens the kundalini shakti (energy of universal creation) and allows it to rise up through the chakra system along the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra is a wheel or hub of energy at a particular point in the spine where energy channels intersect. Through practicing asana (physical postures), pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) and mantra it is possible to direct the flow of energy through the chakras to have profound effect on the nervous system, the mind and the flow of life. If you’ve ever felt like a passenger in your own life, kundalini may be what you’re searching for.

The practice of kundlini yoga historically was part of tantric tradition. Tantra means secret mantra and as such, the practice was the preserve of the very few privileged gurus and selected students. The modern presentation of Kundalini yoga that we often see today is a blend of several traditions brought to the mainstream by Yogi Bhajan in the 1960’s. Practice involves the use of Kriyas – yoga ‘sets’ of asana, pranayama, meditation and the use of yogic muscle locks or bandhas to direct energy flow and prepare the nervous system, mind and body for the flow of kundalini awakening and rising through the chakra system.

On wearing white

Traditionally teachers and students in kundalini class wear outfits of all white. The choice of white as the universal colour of practice is that colours have an effect on consciousness. Many holistic traditions refer to colours as being inseparably connected to energy points in the body. The chakra system is strongly identified with colours at points from the base of the spine to the crown. The Aura of each individual presents as colours depending on energy flow and interaction.

White is the colour that represents all 7 colours of the chakra system. By wearing white, we project the auric body further away from our physical form, making the energetic changes of our kundalini practice more profound. Wearing white contributes to the efficiency, profundity and progressive effect of our practice. Having said that…your practice is personal to you. If you feel more comfortable or you feel you have a deeper connection to another colour, you can wear whatever assists your practice.

Bowing to the truth within you

Each Kundalini session (following modern principles of Yogi Bhajan) starts with the process of tuning in. We do this by rubbing the palms together, pressing the hands together at the centre of the chest and engaging in the powerful mantra Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo three times. This is your recognition of the universal truth within; bowing to your own destiny.

What to expect

Kundalini yoga is weird – there I’ve said it. Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at what a typical class will involve. After tuning in, we start the Kriya – a set of postures (some of which may be familiar to you if you’ve practiced other forms of yoga), breathing techniques, muscle locks and mantra chanting (silently or out loud). Kundalini isn’t as dynamic as a vinyasa class – you won’t be getting up and down from your mat over and over – but it is still challenging. We use rapid repetition and controlled movements to channel energy. You will feel this as heat, emotional release, fatigue or muscle shakes (along with many other possible effects). It’s a full body, mind and spirit experience in each session. Classes will close with mantra, meditation or sound experiences.

Join me on Wednesday evenings twice a month to embark on the extraordinary journey that is kundalini yoga. Awaken your divine energy in 2021 and make this year the year you reclaim happiness.

Your Practice, Our Community: Lockdown 2.0

Well we were expecting it weren’t we? But that said, lockdown still comes as a blow to most of us (myself included). But, I’m still here helping you to stay motivated, lifted and encouraged to keep practicing yoga and meditation. We have a great community of yogis and meditators, so lets get through this together!

Back online each week with the following:

Weekly – ’10 minutes a day’ mindfulness practice uploaded to Youtube. Donation based class; pay what you can/wish by PayPalMe

Wednesdays 12 pm – Yin Yang Yoga, £5

Thursdays 6 pm – Vinyasa Yoga, £5

Fridays 10 am – Yin Yoga, £5

You can find out more about the styles of yoga here.

Classes will run when minimum participant numbers (3 people) have been reached, so please book early if you’d like to practice. There is no limit on the number of people who can join, so spread the word to anyone else who needs a little pick-me-up during lockdown.

If you have any issues with booking, please let me know [email protected]

See you online!

Namaste

Community Classes are Back!

I am so very pleased to say that community classes start again this week! All venues have given the go-ahead for classes to resume. There will be new guidelines and procedures for using the community venues in light of COVID-19, but if we all do our bit, we should be able to practice safely together.

The venues are luckily large enough for us to practice and observe social distancing without restricting numbers. We may need to alter the room layout to practice in rows rather than in the circular layout we usually, use, however each class will be assessed based on participants at the time.

Importantly, as part of track and trace measures, you will be required to provide name, address and contact details so that you can attend class. You can do this in advance by booking online, or you can do this when you arrive at class (please allow extra time for this).

The main points to bear in mind when practicing at community venues are as follows:

  • Please queue outside the building allowing 2 metres between each person prior to entering the halls
  • A one-way system for entry and exit will be in operation. Please follow signage at the venue
  • Hand sanitisers will be available for use at the venues
  • There will be no yoga equipment available to borrow; please make sure you bring everything you need with you
  • Kitchens will be out of use at all venues. Toilets will be in use to allow one person at a time to use the facilities
  • Place your belongings on the floor in the hall to keep use of furniture to a minimum. If you need to use a chair for your practice you can do so, but please leave it set out in the hall for cleaning afterwards.
  • Doors and windows will be open for ventilation purposes. Please try not to touch door or window handles unless necessary
  • Mats will be spaced 2 metres apart during the class
  • You can choose to wear a mask before or during your practice – please make your own assessments of whether this is appropriate for you
  • Please make your own assessments of your health and individual risk factors in taking group classes
  • If you feel unwell at all, do not attend class
  • You will be required to provide name, address and contact details at the time of booking or on entry to the class (please allow extra time for this)
  • Payment should be contactless where possible. Loyalty cards can still be used (and cash if that is your only means of payment)
  • There will be no late entry once the class has started due to data collecting requirements. Please arrive in good time or book online to provide details in advance of the class.

If you have any questions, please get in touch [email protected]

See you soon!

Namaste

Online Retreat Centre

We may still be in lockdown, but the stresses and strains of life don’t give us a break. Work stress may have slowed down, but family life has certainly ramped up. Living in containment, even with those we love can be challenging.

The Well Nest is still fully open and ready to help you with your mental and physical wellbeing. Classes are on offer throughout the week on a pay as you go basis, monthly subscription or donation/pay what you wish basis.

What’s on?

Weekly classes:
Tuesdays at 12 pm – Mindfulness on Facebook Live. Donation based.
Wednesdays at 12 pm Yin Yang Yoga on Zoom. £5 per session
Thursdays at 6 pm – Vinyasa Yoga on Zoom. £5 per session
Fridays at 10 am – Yin Yoga on Zoom. £5 per session

All Yoga classes are part of the monthly subscription – £25 per month, giving you access to up to 12 classes.

You can book your sessions here, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates and special offers.

If you’ve never tried meditation or yoga, now is a great time to start your journey. All you need is a space to roll out your yoga mat or a chair in a quiet corner (headphones help!) and you can gain the skills to make a real difference to how you feel physically and mentally.

Life is about balance and there is a real strength in peace. Take your chance to get out of your mind and into your body – into your true experience of the present moment.

Classes are now by Zoom!

There is no need for your wellbeing practices to take a hit at this difficult time. We need to stay social (even from a distance) and we need to stay active and connected. Our bodies and minds may be under significant stress, but things will be continuing at The Well Nest.

Most of the community classes are moving online. You can still practice with the same yogis, same teacher…but from your living room, kitchen, spare bedroom…any comfortable place.

Class Schedule

The following classes will be available every week from week commencing 23rd March:

Tuesdays 12 pm – 12.30 pm – Mindfulness & Meditation (on Facebook Live) Currently free as we all need this right now. No sign-up, just join @TheWellNestUK on Facebook from Tuesday 24th March.

Wednesdays 12 pm – 1 pm – Yin Yang Yoga by Zoom, £5.

Thursdays 6 pm – 7 pm – Vinyasa Yoga by Zoom, £5

Fridays 10 am – 11 am – Yin Yoga by Zoom, £5. This gentle, restorative class is back by popular demand. Mindful movements to connect body and mind.

All classes can be booked through the Events page of the website. Booking for each class opens 10 days before the event so you have time to book.

Classes are running at nearly 20% discount (and free in some cases). We all need to survive these tough times and we will do if we work together. I want to be able to continue to offer wellbeing classes for all when life gets back to ‘normal’. Your support right now means the world.

Workshops and Retreats

Staying at home doesn’t mean missing out on developing your mindfulness practice and learning the tools to help us navigate difficult times.

This month’s retreat will be a Home Retreat by Zoom. Teachings and meditations will be provided with notes and guide sheets being provided by email.

Saturday 11th April 2 pm – 4 pm – Reducing Stress and Anxiety with Mindfulness, £15

Full details fo the Home Retreat can be found on the Events page where you can also book your place.

This workshop is running at 25% discount. We all need to survive these tough times and we will do if we work together. I want to be able to continue to offer wellbeing classes for all when life gets back to ‘normal’. Your support right now means the world.

Namaste

COVID-19 Update

All classes, workshops and treatments will be continuing as normal with The Well Nest until venues or official guidance suggests another course of action. Classes will be taking place in the community, privately and for 1:1s as arranged.

I will continue to keep everyone updated on the situation, but in the meantime, please be reassured that the following steps are being taken so that you can continue to attend wellbeing classes and therapies:

  • No props or yoga mats will be available to borrow for the foreseeable future. Please bring your own mats and props and care for them appropriately to ensure hygiene and cleanliness
  • Payments should be made by card or loyalty card where possible to keep cash handling to a minimum
  • Class sizes will be limited to less than 15 people
  • Please do not attend class if you are unwell or have been in contact with others who are unwell. Follow guidance issued by the NHS and WHO
  • Please wash hands and/or use hand sanitiser before and after class
  • Therapies and 1:1 sessions take place in a dedicated space used only by me and my clients. The space is kept clean and sanitised in line with professional standards. Hand washing facilities are available for use

If you have concerns about attending group sessions, I still have availability for private sessions for yoga, meditation and healing therapies.

Virtual Classes by Skype

If venues advise that they will be closing for a period, I plan to offer my regular classes as advertised in the class timetable, remotely via Skype so that you can practice with me from your home.

Your mental and physical wellbeing is important at this time of stress. I’d like to do what I can to help you stay motivated and uplifted and to keep your wellbeing routine going.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

[email protected]

Autumn Renewal

As the summer draws to a close and we start to look inwards, the Autumn provides the perfect opportunity to invest in renewal; of the mind, body and spirit.

Whether you are looking for relaxation, self-care, indulgence or a total change of direction through insight, there are courses, workshops and retreats at The Well Nest this season to suit every need.

It’s important to take holistic approach to wellbeing; looking after body, mind and spirit, to ensure that a balance of overall wellbeing is achieved. At The Well Nest you will find it easier to achieve this balanced approach to wellbeing as events are all designed with a holistic approach in mind. Working on one element of wellbeing, whilst beneficial, often doesn’t address a more long-term imbalance. Make new habits and invest in you this season. It might just change your life…

What’s on this season?

All Workshops and Retreats can be booked on the Events page where you will find lots more information on each session.

September

  • Yoga for Menopause – by Candlelight. Friday 6th, 7 pm – 8.30 pm, £15. TopLine Studio, Stafford. A gentle Hatha and Yin Yoga session with relaxation and meditation. Postures to help manage the symptoms of menopause and tune into the body through meditation.
  • Be Kind to Your Mind – Mindfulness for Wellbeing. Tuesday 10th, 6 pm – 8 pm, Free. The University of Wolverhampton in Stafford. A public seminar exploring why and how we should practice mindfulness for better health and wellbeing. If you are interested in the 8 Session Practitioner Course (below) this seminar will give you a lot more information on that course and its benefits.
  • Introduction to Mindfulness – Morning Retreat. Saturday 21st, 10 am – 12 pm, £20. TopLine Studio, Stafford. A full introduction to the practice of mindfulness that will allow you to practice at home and approach life’s challenges with a different perspective. 

From the first week of September:

  • Guided Meditation every Wednesday morning 8 am – 8.30 am at TopLine Studio, £5.  Guided morning practice of Mindfulness and Meditation to help you establish a routine of Mindfulness. Morning is the best time to practice and where you will feel the most benefit for your day and your week.
  • Yin Yang Yoga – Beginners & Improvers every Thursday morning 10 am – 11 am at TopLine Studio, £6. A gentle mid-morning practice of Hatha and Yin Yoga to help you stretch out, work on strength, balance, flexibility and joint mobility in a comfortable and supportive environment.

October

  • Eight Session Mindfulness Practitioner Course. Tuesdays from 8th October, 2 pm or 6 pm, £160. The University of Wolverhampton in Stafford. A complete course to enable you to practice mindfulness fully and to provide the tools for you to change your mind and your life. The course provides an in-depth toolkit to tackle the challenges of life from work/life stress, relationships, sleeplessness, emotional and physical pain (plus more!). All course materials and refreshments provided.
  • Choosing Happiness – Morning Retreat. Saturday 19th, 10 am – 12 pm, £20. TopLine Studio. A morning retreat looking at our relationship with happiness, what it means to each of us and how we can cultivate it to live freely and more joyfully.

Welcome in the new season and find your balance with The Well Nest. Renew this season, for you.

Men’s Wellbeing Series

The importance of men’s wellbeing can’t be stressed enough in a time when we hear frightening statistics about mental health, and about how men in particular tend to suffer with the stresses and strains of modern life. Men are much less likely to seek help for mental health issues, workplace stress or anxiety from life in general.

The Men’s Wellbeing Series aims to provide men with an opportunity to try wellbeing activities designed specifically for men, in a community space which aims to promote sharing and openness. This is an opportunity to invest in your health and wellbeing and learn techniques to calm the mind and release stress and tension from the body. Whether you suffer with the pressures of life already, or want to get a handle on your wellbeing before your health is affected, these workshops will provide valuable tools to help you take back control of your mental and physical wellbeing.

There are two options for men to try in this series, and no experience is necessary for either workshop. Each workshop can be booked individually (no need to do both) so you can choose both, or the one that appeals the most. To kickstart the Men’s Wellbeing Series, each workshop is offered at £5 off the usual investment.

The Workshops

Yoga for Mind and Body

Wednesday 26th June 2019, 6 pm – 7.30 pm, £15

A truly beneficial workshop for mind and body to help you unwind, de-stress, stretch and relax.

This workshop is a great place to start your yoga practice. The session will include dynamic movements for flexibility and strength and restorative, longer holds to encourage joint mobility and mindful movement. There will be guided relaxation and meditation included. 

To find out more, or book your place – visit the Events page.

Introduction to Mindfulness

Tuesday 9th July 2019, 6 pm – 7.30 pm, £20

A fantastic introduction to mindfulness that will give you the opportunity to try practices and learn how mindfulness can help to calm the busyness of the mind.

The workshop will cover: what mindfulness is, how to connect with the present moment through awareness, using mindfulness to calm the busyness of the mind, using mindfulness in daily life and in stressful situations. Participants will try different mindfulness meditations which can be practiced during and after the session.

To find out more, or book your place – visit the Events page.

The Venue

The Workshops will be held at a great new community space above Candid Beer in Stafford town centre.

Candid is a craft beer bottleshop/taproom/coffeeshop/co-working space and events hub rolled into one. Community and conversation are central at Candid.

See you there!

New Classes and Courses for Spring

Exciting developments are on the way at The Well Nest bringing wellbeing and peace of mind to new areas in Stafford and surrounds.

A host of new classes, courses and workshops are on the way. There is something for everyone from lunchtime escapes into yoga and meditation to energetic vinyasa flow and in-depth mindfulness practitioner courses to change your mind and your life.

Wellbeing shouldn’t be the last thing we look after: if we prioritise our own inner peace, we can improve our mindset, physical and mental health, relationships and work. Don’t put it off any longer…join us and find something new.

Starting in May, we have a new partnership with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to bring yoga and mindfulness practice to the beautiful location of the Wolseley Centre. 50% of all session costs go to support the work of the Trust. The following classes and courses will be on offer:

Yin Yoga – every Friday 10 am -11.15 am in the Conference Centre. Practice this restorative form of yoga to increase joint mobility and move mindfully. classes will include relaxation and meditation. No need to book, just bring your mat to practice: £7 per session.

Mindful Walking – learn the practice of mindfulness meditation in the Gatehouse and take that outside to practice mindful walking through the wooded areas, boardwalk and lakeside at the Wolseley Centre. Sessions run one Saturday per month at £15 per person per session. Booking required.

Mindfulness Practitioner Course – 8 sessions to provide a full practice of mindfulness for everyday life. Learn how to use mindfulness to work with emotional and physical difficulties, pain, mental busyness, anxiety and stress. A full programme to change your mind and your life. The course is £160 and booking is required.

Also starting in May, the Well Nest will have regular classes and workshops at the brand new TopLine Studio in Stafford town centre. Ideally located and beautifully renovated and transformed, this space has a lot to offer for yoga and mindfulness practice.

Lunchtime Escapes – taking place 4 days per week, these 45 minute sessions will offer the opportunity to either stretch and invigorate or relax and unwind in the middle of the day. Each session costs £5 and there is no need to book; drop in and leave with a different outlook.

Mondays – Yin Yang Yoga

Tuesdays & Thursdays – Meditation & Mindfulness

Fridays – Yin Yoga

Evening Yoga sessions – Finish the working day by stretching out, flowing through poses or moving mindfully with the breath. Two sessions are on offer to help you finish the day on a high. Sessions are 60 minutes long and cost £6 each.

Tuesdays 5 pm – Vinyasa Yoga

Fridays 5.30 pm – Yin Yoga

Hope to see you at one of our new classes soon! Watch this space for upcoming workshops and events.