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    While I have been practising yoga for some 40 years I have only been teaching yoga for about 16 years and in those latter years I have often thought it important to give my students a reason for practising yoga. That has often been played out on the yoga mat, why are we practising this particular posture, why are we doing this breath technique, why are we are we doing this particular relaxation technique or meditation.

    By giving students a good reason for doing what they are doing I have found it inspires them to continue with their practice with greater encouragement and purpose. 

    But if you are a beginner or someone who is thinking of starting yoga what might be a good reason for taking up this practice? 

    As we have moved into the 20thC many people are taking a fresh look at the idea of exploring spirituality and yoga can play an important role in that quest. Nevertheless, spirituality apart, yoga practices can give clear and meaningful benefits to everyone.

    At this point I would like to just make reference to one of the great yoga Swamis of the last century, Satyananda Saraswati who once said words to the effect: Don't just practice yoga because I say it is good for you but if you do practice yoga have faith for a while in the technique you are using and then decide for yourself if it has brought value to your life.

    Beside the spiritual quest, yoga can simply be a means of maintaining health and wellbeing in our increasingly stressful global community.

    We probably will never completely irradicate stress in our lives. After all stress is the nature of matter in the universe. All atoms contain an element of agitation or stress and remember we have evolved from that matter. But we can do a lot to alleviate some of that stress.

    Even gentle yoga postures assist in removing some of our physical discomfort that can build up during the day from our activities at work and other interactions that can leave us with tensions and sometimes feelings of anxiety.

    Yoga breathing is an underated practice but it is probably the glue that holds the whole practice together and as your yoga journey unfolds you often come to see its ever growing value. I would even go as far as to say that our breath is the key to experiencing Samadhi, that blissfull state when the stilling of the body/mind brings us to a place of exquisite calmness.

    Yoga relaxation and meditation can help us to make better use of our ever decreasing time off. We live in a time of mobile phones, laptops, 24 hour online shopping, a pandemic, political conflict and increasing hours of working from home. In this pressurized lifestyle practising yoga makes good social and business sense.

    You could say that the underlying principles of yoga give us a most useful implement for helping us combat social despair. Yoga helps us to start reconnecting with our true selves so as to bring harmony to our body, mind and spirit in this current age and compassion where it has often drifted beyond sight. Besides the benefits already mentioned remember that yoga practice is an experience that cannot be understood in a scholarly way but can only really become part of your knowledge through regular practice and experience.

    Barry Todd (Yoga Teacher M&B Bury) 


  2. the-elegant-luxe-life-seated-twist-pose

    I can remember many years ago when I started practicing yoga that there was no real evidence of yoga teachers in most towns (cities maybe). I lived in Prestwich then and you had to go to Chorlton or the Manch.Univ. campus to find one. If you did it was likely they taught Hatha Yoga.

    In contrast today there seems to be a yoga teacher in every town and village across the UK and the styles vary from Ashtanga Yoga to Dru Yoga and many more.

    This might look like it would be hard to choose which way to jump.

    It can depend on what outcome you are looking for in your practice. Are you simply wanting to persue a moderate physical activity that will make you more flexible, toned and a little stronger; are you looking to relieve your stress and anxiety, are you seeking a deeper level of spritual reality? If it is one of the former then pretty well any style could suit you. Then again if it is one of the latter pretty well any style  could suit you! You might just find that Ashtanga Yoga is a bit physically challenging or Kundalini Yoga a bit high voltage. But all claim to be going in the same direction albeit a different path.

    So you could do a little yoga touring. Yes that means move around and try a few till you find the right one for you. I think the same goes for differing yoga teachers. You eventually find one that you are comfortable with and like the varying styles of yoga, all teachers are different but it is fair to say they are all on the same path. Or should I say they are all on a different path that leads to the same place! 

    The same concept applies to the deeper thinking behind yoga asana classes. The thinking we see if we read Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

    In the sutras we find the practitioners framework referred to as the Eight Limbs which are Yamas and Niyamas (the restaints and observances) Asana (postures) Pranayama (breathing) Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi (concentration, contemplation and merging into blissfulness). 

    Many think that it is best to start with asana and pranayama and we are often first introduced to yoga with these two limbs. Yet they are all referred to as the "limbs" and they are not necessarily meant to be considered in a linear way. Like saying "Well, I'll stick with the asana and breathing for a while and maybe in the future look at Dharana and the last two and sometime I'll get around to the yamas and niyamas. The point is that in their own right each of the limbs is going in the same direction so we should not really neglect any of the limbs for long. I was remiss myself for years putting off Samadhi thinking that it was for more "advanced" practitioners, whatever that means!

    Once we have started to get comfortable with asana and breathing then why not delve into dharana and even samadhi.

    Even if we spent months just contemplating the yamas and niyamas along with our asana work we would learn a great eal about ourslves.

    The yamas and niyamas themselves also lead to Om as does simply working more with pranayama. In fact working more with the breath even when you are off the mat will show you how the breath is that amazing link between body and mind.

    So when you are wondering where to go next with your yoga practice be daring, be adventurous and move around those limbs with greater confidence and prove to yourself that all paths do indeed lead to Om.

    Barry Todd


  3. courage

    Face the Fear   ... and do it anyway ..... face your fears  .....

    Okay good advice maybe but what the hell does it mean?

    Anyone who has been watching 'Breaking Dad' on TV will know that  Bradley Walsh has been subjected to facing many of his fears and doing them sometimes with pride, sometimes regret.

    But generally we can each take or leave those kinds of fears which may be seen by some as dare-devil stuff.

    We all need fear to survive.  Not saying that anything is impossible and with some belief you could probably walk through fire or on broken glass but in everyday life as we know it we programme our fear to stop us from taking unecessary risks .... and heres the crunch.

    Our programming during our life has decided what kind of level our fear barometer is set at and we tend to live within that level. The fear is not of the things you need to face but is an emotional fear of becoming unsafe.  In other words a zone in which you feel safe - also known as your comfort zone.  So facing the fear probably means stretching your comfort zone.  You could do this gently and slowly or like Bradley Walsh you could get thrown in the deep end.  This could have one or more  of several effects: make you fearless (unlikely); build up your confidence to do more (possible); establish the fear even deeper (possibe); make you physically or emotionally ill (possible).

    Deciding what course of action to take to conquer your fears needs careful consideration as any over stretching could cause you to further withdraw into your zone of comfort.

    Lets take a break for a moment and consider those who have been brought up doing things we would need to summon up some courage to do.  Like circus performers for instance introduced to the high wires or trapeze.  To them it is simply a part of their life but they may have other fears that we cope with easily.

    This example may offer us some insight into the base of our fears.  The emotions that influence the fears are more generalised often allowing you to go about your daily life in trepidation and anticipating a disaster.  

    We only have the past. the present and what we imagine for the future, to live up to and influence our perceptions and choices. 

    So in some ways  our fears that we live with are like self-fulfilling prophecies in that we choose the option most like what we fear to take as our reality.  This is one of the areas that we can work on to improve our safe space.  Once we feel the anxiety of fear or the result of a perceived negative experience we can take the time to look at the situation and do our best to introduce new perspective to view it through.

    One perspective could be to imagine you are someone else who you admire and who you believe would be able to handle this situation more confidently than you did.  Allow yourself to experience their perspective with your body and your mind.

    Another way would be to imagine yourself distanced from the  situation in some way.  Up in the air like a  bird looking down on it;  behind the situation and far away; from yesterday; from tomorrow; from next year.

    All these things are increasing your experiences and options for future fears and even those fears that are with you all the time known as anxiety.

    Anything that you imagine well becomes within your experience range as a memory.  That's why sports people spend great lengths of time practising in their mind achieving their sporting ambitions.

    So if you suffer from fear or anxiety then give this a go and please let me now how you get on.

    Thanks for reading.

    Andrea Lowe, Senior Hypno/psychotherapist
    at Mind and Body


  4. Hearty Soup, sounds good and should be too.  However, to make it really ealthy and nutritious it's good to make sure the preservatives, flavours and other enhancers are clean health wise.

    This brings me to a pet annoyance I have.

    I like to make a thick soup so that a big steaming bowl full with a bit of crusty bread is almost enough for a meal.

    To make it thick it is not unusal to use white flour.  Regardless of wheat intolerances white flour has no nutritional value as far as I can see - it is just a bulker.  Why spoil a natural healthy meal with bulkers.

    It is so easy to thicken soup with nutritionally valuable ingredients.  

    Here are some examples:

    The picture show my carrot and red lentil soup.  It have only vegetables (carrot, onion, garlic, a bit of ginger etc) in it and it is very thick

    There is quite a lot of red lentil in that soup as it is one of the main ingredients.

    Yet red lentils added to a soup with   a gentler hand is not detecta ble yet still thickens.

    Potates thicken soup and if you are adding to a stew for instance they will break up if you give hem a bit longer to cook.

    Nutritional yeast flakes add a savoury flavour to soup. They thicken and enhance the natural flavour of the soup.

    Pea Protein is a little more demanding to be overlooked, but added to a vegetable soup they blend in nicely.  Barley is a great thickener and aso fab in a barley broth.  Dried beans and pulses always soak up water but need planning into the the recipe.

    I hope that this has given you food for thought.  i really believe that when we eat we could be a lot more conscious of why we are doing it.  To maintain our healthy body.  If we bore that in mind it make making eating even more enjoyabe.thick soup







  5. Could you guess that the average spend on beautification per person in the UK is between £5K and £7K every year.  Compare that to the average income of around £30K.


    So when we're talking about the average don't forget that includes all the people who spend next to nothing on beauty enhancing goods and services like children for instance.

    I am not judging, just wondering why we need to focus all our attention on covering up our natural beauty often in extreme ways.   Who are we doing it for?
    The answer to that question is often 'for myself'.

    Not to mention the length of time spent in front of that  piece of disney inspired furniture fixed to the wall.  Eagerly working  to get the right response from said prophetic artifect.

    It's almost like we need to prepare our inferior self with layers of beauty armour in order to face the day.

    Why do we do this if not to impress others?  To give ourselves confidence, to feel superior, to fit in, to hide the shame and on and on! Hiding our vulnerable selves in a coating of  glamour armour.

    So where is all this self doubt, shame, lack of confidence coming from?

    Well it's certainly not coming from out there.  Notwithstanding that outer stimuli might trigger troubling responses the actual negative self-worth certainly comes from within.  

    As a nation we are so used to expecting the doctor to deal with all our ills, whether that is emotional ills or physical ills.  Generally, although things are improving, we  eat what we want, drink what we want take what we want without a thought and expect a magical pill to repair the long term damage once it becomes apparent.  Unfortunately there is a price to pay for that attitude and it's not a financial one, it is an array of side effects that whether slowly or quickly  emerge as a reaction to the coverted and  convenient pills.

    Most people are hiding from themselves througout their lives.  Trying to build up armour to avoid getting to know who they really are.  When transfering a little of the time and finances committed to the outer self for a realtively short period of time could release much of the need for the that commitment as we begin to understand and accept  oursleves for the wonderful people we are.  Understanding our reactions to others and the vulnerability and dependance we feel towards others can remove much of our armour and set us free.

    That takes a different kind of commitment, courage and a belief in yourself.

    Andrea Lowe Hypnotherapist and Trainer

    Andrea has been working on releasing emotional blocks since 1995



  6. I was loading some new videos into our 'On Demand' collection and it got me thinking.  Demand sounds, to me, verging on aggressive!  For example, I demand that you give me a refund for these faulty goods or I demand that you answer me and so forth....

    So that led me to substituting some other words for demand.  Here are some of them I considered and some from the thesaurus:- command, ask, stipulate, order, dictate, desire, require  ..... and the most obvious REQUEST.  Of course some of these words do not fit the situation, for me request is the closest.  Yet it is not the ideal message.  On request sounds slow, it sounds like you're starting up a process and someone at the other end has to action it for you, whereas ON DEMAND impresses that the power is with you to draw down a video to watch at any time, no waiting, no one else involved just click and collect so to speak.  So at the end of the day On Demand is the right choice in this case as it has become a recognised phrase.  But if you are in an enviroment where you are subjected to aggressive language at home or in the workplace then your inner peace is being contaminated.


    Then I started thinking about the way we use words (again sorry if I'm boring you, it's just a thing I have).  These days the politeness seems to be giving way for personal power and control.   We're all busy empowering and positioning ourselves that we have lost some compassion along the way. We all seem to be staking our position whether outright and up front or under cover and fake. We want everything instantly, when we say and we don't really want to wait around for someone else to do their thing.  I suppose this is one of the side effets from the benefits we get from technological advances where we are more and more self-sufficient with our laptops and mobile phones.  Where in the past we had to be patient whilst waiting for a specialist to process something for us, duplicate, sub contract etc., now we get annoyed with technology if it is making us wait for a few extra minutes as it's running slow and by that I don't mean extending the wait to days or weeks.  It's always fairly instant.

    And with all the extra knowledge we need  to fit into the modern work stream then we can sometimes get overloaded.  We don't always have the time to word things politely, we may start to be more abrupt as nothing except what is inside our heads is important to us.  You could find it referred to as stress which comes with bad temper.  We don't have time to consider others and the effect our words may be having on them.

    As a hypnotherapist working with words all the time I can tell you that the words you choose to use do have an impact, create an initial impression.  Self talk most definitely included.

    Considering the way you word things is very important if you want to offer a caring attitude to others and this is especially relevant with your children and with teenagers going through  confusing changes.  Changes that you have to adjust to as well.  But beware if you're not genuine the fakeness shows.

    And talking of instant gratification, I suppose we should be grateful but something has to give and one of the things that seems to be giving is cooking your own food.  It is now normal to grab a quick meal so normal that it has a name 'fast food'.  What we put into ourselves is one of the most important things we can consider that includes food, drink and words via thoughts. 

    Life is too fast to worry about that though we just rush on.

    COVID has slowed us down and many people are looking at simplifying their lives and slowing down to appreciate the pace of life.  Yipee is all I can say.  Good on yer!

    Just in case you're wondering our  on demand classes are accessed through membership  see more on the website.  We have a range of activities on and off line to introduce some calm and space into your week.  Take a look at the website and whats on for more info.

    Stay calm and carry on but watch your words.

    Andrea Lowe Hypnotherapist and trainer at Mind and Body